As the Heat and the Mavericks battle in the NBA Finals, Knicks' fans are anxious about the prospects for the future.
The additions of Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony finally brought some legitimacy back to New York basketball, but more is certainly needed if the organization expects to make a real run at a championship.
Demanding Knicks fans want more than first-round playoff exits, so Knicks management need to prowl the market looking to swing a few key additions to bring the Finals back to Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks picked up the option on Chauncey Billups's contract through next season, so they have the battle-tested veteran point guard for one more season and enormous cap relief heading into the 2012 offseason.
Here is a list of players the Knicks will probably consider pursuing to make the team a contender, either through trade or free agency.
CHRIS PAUL. The gem of the star-studded 2012 free agent class, he has a player option for 2012-13 but if the Hornets don't improve he could choose to become a free agent after next season.
The Pros: Definitely one of the top 3 point guards in the league. If the series against L.A. was any indication, Paul might be the cream of the crop of short guards as he continues to shred opposing defenses. Imagine a Mike D'Antoni pick-and-roll offense that features Paul and Stoudemire.
The Cons: Not many, but there are lingering concerns about the health of his knee and whether he can fully regain the form that made him the runner up in MVP voting in 2008. Also, should Paul request a trade, the Knicks would have a hard time finding the pieces to make the deal work, and perhaps weaken their chances of landing more feasible players on the trade block.
Should he choose to leave the Hornets, Paul has to be the Knicks number one free-agent target. A Big Three featuring Paul, Anthony, and Stoudemire would be unstoppable offensively and has the potential to lead to multiple rings. Not to mention that playoff battles between Chicago, Miami, and New York would make the Eastern Conference ridiculously exciting.
STEVE NASH. The Suns point guard will be an unrestricted free agent following next season, and if Phoenix doesn't trade him by the deadline next season he could potentially hit the open market where they would probably lose him for nothing.
The Pros: He's one of the all-time great point guards and his brilliant court vision will make his teammates better. Nash has played for Mike D'Antoni and with Stoudemire so the chemistry already exists, and the possibility of him running an offense with Stoudemire and Anthony as his one and two options is tantalizing.
The Cons: He'll be 38 after next season, he is a terrible defender, and teams generally don't consider building with a player who are past their prime. But Nash is fanatically devoted to his health and fitness and could easily continue to amaze.
GERALD WALLACE. Of the players on this list, Wallace is clearly the most under-rated. The Portland Trail Blazer guard would fit perfectly on the Knicks, and take the scoring pressure off of Anthony and Stoudemire.
The Pros: Wallace can flat out score, he's a solid rebounder, and very durable. An unselfish point guard will have no problems finding him for outside shots. Wallace is in his prime, and is a fierce competitor.
The Cons: Though he's a very good player, Wallace is no superstar, and the Knicks need a point guard and a big man more than they need a swing man. Landry Fields fits the shooting guard position well, too.
ANDREW BYNUM. This is pure fantasy, the Lakers have a team option for the 2012-2013 season and there's no reason they'd consider letting the future cornerstone of their franchise walk away. Suppose however, that something truly amazing happens (Dwight Howard joins the Lakers) and Bynum becomes a free agent.
The Pros: He's young, he's big, he's strong, he's good and he's getting better. The Knicks desperately need a strong inside big man to play defense and hold the middle. Bynum not only has strong defensive skills, but also has plenty of scoring moves.
The Cons: He's been injured a lot already in his career and his knees are carrying a heavy load. He's only 23 years old, but he's already played six seasons and only once managed to play more than 65 games.
The Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 this year, but expectations in New York continue to rise. The current roster simply doesn't have the talent to make a legitimate run at the Finals, so reinforcements are needed beyond hoping for players like Toney Douglas to step up their game.
The fans want championships, and Knicks management need to seize the opportunities of the free agent and trade market the way they did to land Stoudemire and Anthony if they expect to hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in the near future.