Shanoff's WUC: Knicks Lose Zero-Sum Game

Today's Calls: LeBron vs. NBA Free Agency, Knicks vs. Oblivion, Nets vs. Promise, Paul Pierce vs. the Celtics, David Villa vs. Lionel Messi, Yankees vs. Cliff Lee, Red Sox vs. Rays, Albert Pujols vs. the Home Run Derby, Chris Johnson vs. Superstardom, Mike Vick vs. Videotape, South Carolina baseball vs. South Carolina football, Erin Andrews vs. ESPN and More. ↵

↵Mike D'AntoniThe Opening Pitch: When NBA free agency — the "Summer of LeBron" — officially starts at midnight, the only thing we know for certain is there will be one winner and a bunch of losers. ↵

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↵That is the brutal reality of NBA free agency: This is a zero-sum game. ↵

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↵And so while the Heat trumps up "tri-umphalism" and the Bulls hold out for the LeBest, while the Mavs content themselves with re-signing Dirk and the Nets get ready to show up the Knicks by buying high from the B-list, the Knicks prepare for failure. ↵

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↵I would contend that Knicks president Donnie Walsh's failure to land an A-list free agent — namely, LeBron — represents as epic a failure as anything we witnessed in the Isiah Era. Not signing LeBron James is worse than signing Jerome James. ↵

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↵Knicks fans were promised glory in the Summer of 2010. "Just wait..." was the phrase that pays. Two years of bad basketball, all on the giddy potential of LeBron's arrival. ↵

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↵Well, we are here. And there will be no LeBron for the Knicks. No Wade. No Bosh. The Knicks' back-up plan appears to be Joe Johnson and Amare Stoudemire — the irony is that even those two also-rans are no lock; both will more likely end up elsewhere. ↵

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↵It isn't that the Knicks are going to have to settle for paying max freight for second-tier talent; it is that they are likely going to get shut out entirely. Prepare yourself for spin that they are better off hoarding cap space for 2011 than spending just to spend right now. ↵

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↵The Knicks will go back to the mantra: "Just wait until NEXT summer!" ↵

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↵They will talk up the extra 2011 cap space from Eddy Curry’s expiring contract. They will let the media swoon over the idea of Carmelo in NYC. And yet there is no reason to believe the Knicks will have any greater success next summer than this one. ↵

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↵July 1 marks the flip side of the hope that fans have about free agency: The harsh reality that it is a zero-sum game. You get LeBron or you don't. You overspend on second-tier free agents or you don't. Your team gets better or you don't. ↵

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↵Midnight strikes tonight, and plenty of teams have reason to be excited. But midnight also strikes tonight on the Knicks’ delusions of grandeur. ↵

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↵NBA Free Agent Predictions: ↵

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↵LeBron: Bulls ↵
↵Wade: Heat ↵
↵Bosh: Heat ↵
↵Dirk: Mavs ↵
↵Joe Johnson: Heat ↵
↵Amare: Bulls ↵
↵Boozer: Nets ↵
↵Rudy Gay: Nets ↵
↵David Lee: Knicks ↵

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↵Latest gossip: So that big "Miami summit" may not have happened. That doesn't change the argument for why LeBron might — or should — join Wade and Bosh in Miami. ↵

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↵Why not the Nets? If the new-look Nets were already in Brooklyn, I think LeBron would be joining them. They have the best young core (Lopez, Favors, Harris, T-Will); the room to sign LeBron and another max player (or two: thanks, Yi!); the NBA's most intriguing (and likely most free-spending) owner; and all that Brooklyn cachet (see the huge billboard the Nets put up next to Madison Square Garden). It won't happen, and even though the Nets should be patient and make a play for Carmelo next summer (can you imagine a front-line of Lopez, Favors and Melo?), they will likely (over-)spend big now for instant impact. ↵

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↵More LeBron: Even though I have been predicting LeBron abandoning Ohio since 2006 (and taken a lot of heat from Cavs fans for it), I feel genuinely bad for Cleveland basketball fans. Now you know the LeBron the rest of us know. ↵

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↵What should the Celtics do with Paul Pierce? He is a jersey-in-the-rafters player, but he has way too much mileage to be worth $90M over four years. The Celtics should be good enough to make a run at the East title in 2010-11, but what about after that? The window hasn't closed, but it is closing — better to send Pierce on his way and try to replace him with Rudy Gay. ↵

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↵World Cup: You can make a very good case that Spain's David Villa is the best player in the tournament so far (but the odds-on favorite is still Lionel Messi). ... Penalty kicks aren't nearly as exciting as I remember them to be. ... And, after a frenzy of group stage and second-round games, a break today and tomorrow until the quarters start Friday. You get your morning (and afternoon) back, temporarily, so get back to work. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵— The Yankees got an up-close look at why they should seriously consider paying the steep price to get Cliff Lee from the Mariners. ↵

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↵— Who needs the Home Run Derby? Not Albert Pujols. ↵

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↵— You know something is really wrong with the Rays when they lose to the Red Sox. ↵

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↵— Injury Watch: Manny's hammy. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Isn't Chris Johnson already a huge NFL star? (Just ask anyone who plays fantasy football, where Johnson is the No. 1 talent.) The only thing that doesn't reflect it is his paycheck. ↵

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↵Ahh, Cedric Benson: It's always something, isn't it? ↵

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↵CWS: South Carolina is the new champs (quite dramatically, I should add — a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th). It's not football, of course, but it's something. Here's a great stat: Of the last eight NCAA baseball champs, four have been first-timers. Love that. ↵

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↵BTW: Farewell, Rosenblatt Stadium. ↵

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↵Vick Watch: Umm, could this be trouble for Vick? ↵

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↵CFB Expansion: Despite all the happy talk from the Big 12 a few weeks ago, Tommy Tuberville punctures that with some realism. (He's not wrong.) ↵

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↵Scandal Watch: Come on down, San Diego pro sports teams! ↵

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↵The Last Word: Early congrats to Erin Andrews, tomorrow's other high-profile free agent, for reportedly re-signing with ESPN. She is the face of the network — its biggest star. Hopefully, as part of the deal, they give her her own show. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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