New York Knicks' struggles could deter LeBron James from leaving Cavaliers

Frank Isola

The Knicks have Madison Square Garden to offer LeBron James as well the
opportunity to possibly play alongside Chris Bosh or even Dwyane Wade.

"This is a very attractive place to play," Tracy McGrady said. "You have the bright lights and big stage every night."

But is it enough? When James likely becomes a free agent on July 1 and weighs his options, what will he really think of the Knicks once he gets past the bright lights and big city?

It’s a question that should concern team president Donnie Walsh as the Knicks face James in Cleveland Monday night for possibly – keep your fingers, crossed Knicks fans – the last time in a Cavaliers uniform.

Walsh accomplished one goal this season by making a trade that cleared enough salary cap space to sign two max free agents. The other goal was to qualify for the postseason or at least be in a playoff race into mid-March. But with a record of 20-38, the Knicks are likely headed for their third straight season of 50 or more losses. It’s hard to sell yourself as a solid young team that is one superstar away from being a contender when you’re struggling to scratch out 32 wins.

When the season began, the Knicks were hoping that three or four young players would develop quickly enough to make the team more attractive to LeBron. One of those players, Jordan Hill, who was drafted No. 8 overall, was traded to Houston in the McGrady deal two weeks ago after playing sparingly.

Another first-round pick, Toney Douglas, has appeared in just 34 games and although D’Antoni has vowed to give Douglas more minutes, the rookie guard has a long way to go before establishing himself as a solid NBA player.

Third-year forward Wilson Chandler, who will miss tonight’s game following a death in the family, is perhaps the Knicks’ most versatile player and has made significant strides. Meanwhile, second-year forward Danilo Gallinari, a player the Knicks were really counting on to impress James, has slumped badly over the last 20 games.

The Knicks can’t really sell David Lee as a future piece since even Lee admitted during All-Star Weekend that it would be hard for the Knicks to keep him if they signed James. There is still a possibility that Lee could return, but he likely would have to take less money, and Lee is expected to receive a few big offers this summer.

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