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Fear Not, The Knicks Will Survive With or Without LeBron James

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As free agency D-day approaches in less than 48 hours, it’s become apparent to me that a great many Knicks fans have lost their minds. And I’m not casting aspersions here. Everyone is entitled to their respective opinions and mine are no more valid than anyone else’s. No, what I’m saying is that I think everyone has actually gone a little bit batshit.

As recently as last week, I can recall engaging in the type of casual conversation that’s been so routine on twitter for months now where Dan, a large number of other passionate Knicks fans, and I go back and forth suggesting different roster iterations that would dramatically improve the immediate prospects for the team and set the Knicks on a much better future course than they’d been on in the recent past.  The vast majority of these moves that we all  proposed didn’t include Lebron James. Many of them didn’t include Chris Bosh either. And still, to a man, we were all extremely excited about the future.

Yet, in these past few days, as the Lebron/Bosh/Wade chase has inched closer–and by extension, become more real–I’ve noticed that a lot of people are changing their tunes.  Suddenly, the prospect of missing out on Lebron and Bosh is catastrophic. If the Knicks don’t land a big fish, they’ll have “struck out” and Walsh’s plan will have been for naught.

But if we can all just reach back to about a week ago, I think we’ll realize what I think we all already knew: Donnie’s plan has a ton of merit.

For instance — and this is only a “for instance” –if the Knicks sign Joe Johnson and Ty Chandler and trade Wil Chandler and a trade exception for Darren Collison and James Posey, can we honestly say that the cap clearing plan wasn’t worth it? That would leave the Knicks with a roster consisting of Collison, Johnson, Walker, Gallo, Chandler, Curry, Posey, Douglas and 2nd round draft picks.

Can we honestly say, if the Knicks assemble a roster like that, that the plan failed? Think about that team. It has youth with significant upside, it has high level veterans, it’s a solid defensive unit, and it has cap flexibility going forward to add even more to the roster with Curry expiring in ’11 and Posey in ’12.  Given where we’ve been, how can a summer like that be understood as anything other than successful? Last week if any one of us had proposed a roster like that we’d have all been tweet-fiving about how lovely cap space is.

Look, for two years now we’ve been clinging to the dream  that the King would view the Knicks as the ultimate challenge and that he’d have the broad shoulders needed to return New York from the basketball wilderness and assume a throne that we all know to be fraught with peril.  We all frequently acknowledged that it was a long-shot. But with free agency set to begin it’s become apparent that maybe we were all clinging just a little bit tighter than we were willing to admit.

It’s pretty obvious at this point that it is not going to be easy for Knicks fans to shake off a repudiation from Lebron (should he, in fact, pass on the opportunity of a lifetime). But I’d urge everyone to go back to a simpler time, way back  last week, when we were all thinking with our heads, and not just our hearts, and consider all those intriguing Lebron-free lineups we dreamt up over two long years.

It’s time to remember that there’s life and basketball beyond Lebron and it still has the potential to be pretty good.


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