Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Off-Season of Dreams

June 20, 2007
By Anthony Tripicchio

The NBA is a league which requires superstars to win titles. More so than any of the other major sports, if you don’t have a dominant player in the NBA, you aren’t going to win a championship.

The Spurs have Duncan, the Heat had Wade and Shaq, and the Lakers had Shaq and Kobe. Unless you’re the Pistons, (who only won one title and won’t win another with their current nucleus) star power is the formula that equates to championships in the NBA.

That brings me to a team with plenty of superstar contracts, but no superstar players. Of course, it’s the New York Knicks. The Knicks haven’t sniffed a title since Patrick Ewing was shipped out of town and they won’t until they bring in a superstar that can fill his Grand Canyon sized void. With Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett both potentially available, it’s enough to make a Knick fan dream.

Realistically, the chances of the Knicks landing either star are exceptionally slim but Isiah Thomas will most certainly throw his hat in each of the sweepstakes. There should be a phone line in Madison Square Garden connected to GM Mitch Kupchak in L.A. throughout the summer. Bryant and Garnett are rare breeds and players of their caliber come along about as often as a lunar eclipse.

Bryant is a better offensive talent than Michael Jordan. He can do everything Jordan could do on the floor and he’s a better long-range shooter. Obviously, Jordan is the better player because of his unmatched desire to win, all-world defense, and automatic mid-range jumper, but when you can say that an aspect of someone’s game is better than the greatest to ever play, that is impressive.

Despite Bryant’s incessant demands to be dealt, it sounds like Garnett is more of a lock to be traded. He can become a free agent after next year, and Minnesota wants to get something for him while they can. Isiah Thomas shouldn’t wait around for Kobe to be put on the market because the odds are that the Knicks won’t get him anyway. His focus should be to bring either of the superstars to the Big Apple as soon as possible.

The Knicks would present a package of Channing Frye, David Lee, and Jamal Crawford to initiate discussions in any deal for Garnett or Bryant. Thomas has made it clear that Eddy Curry is untouchable and that stance may hinder his ability to get a deal done. Regardless, the Knicks’ bargaining chips are less attractive than Chicago has to offer. Bulls GM John Paxson has repeatedly denied having talks with the Lakers about Bryant, though. If he doesn’t want to break up his young corps or the Lakers ask for too much, Kobe could be headed to New York based on the assumption that L.A. doesn’t want to trade him to a Western Conference rival.

With the best draft in recent memory upcoming in less than a week, the off-season is just starting to heat up. We might see some fireworks before the fourth of July this year.

No comments: