If LeBron James, Dwyane Wade stay put, New York Knicks may target Chris Bosh and

Matt Gagne

If the Knicks find themselves struggling to woo LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who can become free agents next summer, they’ll likely turn their attention to the players such as Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson, who are expected to headline the next tier of potential free agents at season’s end.Regardless of how much money the Knicks will have to spend, there’s no guarantee of landing a superstar given the state of the franchise, and because James grew up in Ohio and Wade appears to be staying put in Miami – on Tuesday Heat owner Micky Arison said he had "every indication" that Wade wants to finish his career where it started.

And while Bosh isn’t the same caliber of player, he has already and quite infamously laughed at the idea of playing in New York.

But luring Johnson may not be that hard of a sell.

The Hawks guard, who was at the Garden taking on the Knicks last night, played for Mike D’Antoni early in his career and credits the coach for putting him on the path to success.

"More than anything he gave me a chance, he gave me a chance to play and just play free – and kind of blossom from there. He’s a great coach," Johnson said before last night’s game. "Every time I had bad games, he’d do things and say things to keep me upbeat. More than anything it was confidence that he gave me. It was just getting that chance and believing in yourself, it was great. I’ve still got a great relationship with him. I love him."

Johnson played under D’Antoni for nearly two full seasons in Phoenix, first as the backup shooting guard and then as a starter. During the 2004-05 season, D’Antoni’s first full season as the Suns’ head coach, Johnson started all 82 games for the first time in his nine-year career.


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