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Why Dwyane Wade should sign with the Knicks

May 31, 2010, 4:46 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for Wade_dunk.jpgNew York Knicks GM Donnie Walsh has spent two years clearing cap space for the summer of 2010. Thanks to Walsh’s willingness to trade away every contract and draft pick that wasn’t nailed down, the Knicks now have enough money to sign two max free agents this summer.

 It hasn’t exactly been a secret that the Knicks’ main target is, was, and always has been LeBron James. James is a force of nature, the reigning two-time (regular season) MVP, a household name, a brand unto himself, and a guy who’s been known to love the bright lights of Madison Square Garden. Up until now, James in a Knicks uniform has always seemed like a natural fit. 

However, now that the summer of 2010 is finally upon us and LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have both played the last games of their current contracts with the Cavaliers and the Heat, it looks like Wade may actually be the better fit for the Knicks. Allow me to explain.
First of all, there’s the issue of availability. Cleveland has the ability to pay LeBron significantly more than any other team can, they have some solid pieces already, and they’ve shown that they are willing to spend whatever it takes to surround LeBron with the best talent available. If they can pull off a big sign-and-trade deal for a player like Chris Bosh this summer, there’s a high probability that LeBron will stay with his hometown team. 
If Cleveland can’t entice LeBron to stay, Chicago has cap space, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and the chance to turn Luol Deng into a running mate via sign-and-trade. The Knicks have no draft picks in the coming years, their roster is threadbare, and their only quality young player is Danilo Gallinari, who plays the same position as James. All the Knicks have to offer LeBron  is the allure of the big city and the chance to play alongside another max free agent, and that might not be enough for LeBron. 
Meanwhile, Wade has likely had just about enough of being a one-man team in Miami, and has to assume that New York can’t do a worse job of surrounding him with talent than Miami has over the past couple of seasons. He’s already engaged in a war of words with the Bulls franchise, which makes it look like he won’t end up with his own hometown team. If you take those teams off the table, the Knicks start to look like a pretty good choice for Wade. 
So Wade should be easier for the Knicks to get their hands on than LeBron this off-season. But that’s far from the only reason that Wade signing with the Knicks would make sense for both sides. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why Wade would be a better fit for the Knicks than LeBron James would be. 
The Knicks are the ultimate high-risk/high-reward proposition for potential free agents this summer. If a big free agent ends up carrying the Knicks to a championship, they will be on top of the sports world, and their exploits will be fondly remembered for many years to come. If they don’t get it done, they’re stuck on a team without draft picks, very few talented young players, and no real way to improve their situation in the near future. Since Wade’s legacy has more to gain and less to lose than LeBron’s does, New York makes more sense for Wade than it would for James.
One thing we know about playing in New York is that the media pressure is constant and unrelenting.

Every move a superstar athlete makes in New York is scrutinized from every possible angle. And once the New York media puts a label on a player, that label tends to stick. Mariano Rivera blew a save in game seven of the World Series and also allowed the Boston Red Sox to come back from a 3-0 deficit — he’s still known as the greatest playoff closer of all time. Derek Jeter could go the rest of his career without a big hit and still be the guy Yankee fans would want at the plate with the game on the line.

On the other hand, look at how the New York media treated A-Rod before he won a world series with the team, and he still hasn’t been fully embraced after winning one. When the New York media turns on you, your entire legacy can be destroyed in the time it takes to come up with a headline.

Everyone assumes LeBron James wants more media attention, but would the increased attention he’d receive in New York really help him? He’s already a household name thanks to the national media, and most national media outlets are extremely kind to LeBron.

The Cleveland media is occasionally critical of LeBron, but they normally write about LeBron as the best player in franchise history and the man who brought winning basketball back to Cleveland. (Which, to be fair, he did.) In short, there are worse situations to be in than LeBron’s current one.

Is an obsessive local media culture that is often all too willing to feed on its own superstars really who LeBron wants covering his career? In a lot of ways, LeBron’s career arc mirrors Alex Rodriguez’s at this point in his career: historically great production, regular season MVP awards, some disappointing playoff performances, and no rings. His persona is also slightly similar to A-Rod’s: on paper, he should be a marketing agency’s dream, but there is a manufactured quality to his persona that turns some people off, and many people find both LeBron and Rodriguez’s on-court/field antics distasteful for one reason or another. 

If LeBron does become a Knick and fails to win a championship in his first year, there’s a distinct possibility he could become basketball’s answer to Rodriguez’s early years in pinstripes. 
Wade, on the other hand, has something that no other major free agent has: a championship ring of his own. He even has a Finals MVP trophy to go along with it. Whatever happens over the course of Wade’s career, nobody will ever be able to discount what Wade did against the Mavericks in 2006. Like I said earlier, reputations in professional sports tend to stick, especially when they are earned while winning a championship. 
Whatever happens in New York, Wade won’t be labeled a “choker,” a player who “doesn’t know how to win,” or “a true champion,” because he’s already proven otherwise. If Wade takes the Knicks to the playoffs a few times and never wins a championship, he won’t be remembered as an all-time great, but he won’t become a pariah either. I’m not sure you can say that about LeBron. 
Not only does Wade have less to lose by playing in New York than LeBron does, but he may have more to gain as well.

A few years ago, the “best active player” debate was a three-way argument between LeBron, Wade, and Kobe; after Wade suffered some injuries and the Heat struggled through some tough seasons, Wade’s name dropped out of that debate, and he currently doesn’t have quite the same standing that LeBron and Kobe do.

Going to New York would change that in a hurry. Wade is a great basketball player who has done some funny commercials alongside of Charles Barkley; if he goes to the Knicks, he has all the charisma necessary to become an absolute superstar. (And don’t forget that his girlfriend, actress Gabrielle Union, wouldn’t have any problems adjusting to the bright lights of the big city.) 

It almost seems like an afterthought at this point, but it’s worth mentioning that Wade would be a very good fit for the Knicks on the court — he would be the perfect player to set up Danilo Gallinari with open threes, and as the best playmaking guard available in free agency, he should work well in Mike D’Antoni’s gu
ard-dependent system.

Give Wade an Amar’e, a Boozer, or even a David Lee to work with in the frontcourt, and the Knicks could be very fun to watch and very good very quickly. 

So there you have it: the case for Dwyane Wade to sign with the New York Knicks next season. New York has been holding their breath for LeBron for the last two years; if Donnie Walsh and Co. open their minds a little bit and make a real run at Wade on July 1st, they could find that the best man to make Knicks basketball relevant again is the man they’ve only thought of as a consolation prize so far. 
  1. Joe - May 31, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    I’m not sure if the statement that A-rod is prone to losing his temper on the field is an accurate one. Could you come up with some example of his doing so?

  2. Adam - May 31, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Very nice angle on this. I never really considered Wade heading to NY as likely in the least but I do agree with the premise of a better fit personally. I still think they will bring Amare to Miami, which would be enough to entice DWade to stay. He and Pat Riley are tight and the history is on Wade’s side to stay. Also, Bosh to Cle in a sign-and-trade is an interesting idea. For it to happen though, I think Toronto would have to demand at least Varejao, Delonte’s exp contract, and maybe JJ Hickson. But still, it would be more than worth it for Cleveland.

  3. Dan - May 31, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Don’t forget Turkoglu. He wants out of Toronto and obviously they want to get rid of him.

  4. John Pileggi - May 31, 2010 at 6:01 PM

    If the Knicks sign only Wade, they will retain some cap room for next year, so it is not “Wade and that’s it”. I doubt if Wade comes if he does not see a plan for the roster which adds some talent for him to gel with.

  5. Robert Newman - May 31, 2010 at 6:19 PM

    Does anyone except the ego-centric New York media give a damn about all this speculation of who the Knicks will acquire. The word-pushers keep trying to convince us that this is important for some reason, but I for one don’t get it. First of all, the Knicks may have a lot of cap space, but that and Devon Harris and perhaps Mike D’Antoni are the only things they have going for them. James Dolan and Isiah Thomas ran the team into the ground and made it the laughing stock of the league. About the only thing they did that made any sense was to get rid of Stephon Marbury – about three years too late. Why would any great athlete want to play for a team that will take years under the best of conditions to become a contender again. Everyone of the hopefuls is already rich and the difference between a contract that pays maybe $20 million in New York vs. $18 million in Dallas or Memphis is not that big a motivator. Also, believe it or not, there are many families that would not want to live in the New York area simply as a matter of lifestyle. Or maybe they just don’t want to be living and playing in a location that Al-Qaeda continues to target for nuclear or biological attack.

  6. sexy rexy - May 31, 2010 at 10:08 PM

    Robert Newman shut up! Dwade needs to come to New York and take his place as the rightful successor to Derek Jeter aka MVP and CAPTAIN of the NYC!

  7. Thegame1479 - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:23 AM

    Wade to the Knicks. LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good luck with that. According to NY’ers and NY media, the knicks will have a starting lineup of Amare, Bosh, Lebron, Johnson and Wade. Get over yourselves NY!!!! Nobody is falling all over themselves to play in your over-crowded and high-taxed city. Why do you migrate and infect S. Florida if NY is the mecca? The Mecca of what? Media Capital of the World???? Not all players love the media. Get ready for more losing.

  8. King Kong - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    “Meanwhile, Wade has likely had just about enough of being a one-man team in Miami, and has to assume that New York can’t do a worse job of surrounding him with talent than Miami has over the past couple of seasons.”
    Every move Miami has made the past couple of seasons has been to clear space. Do you think Wade lives in the same cave you do and is not aware of this?

  9. NJim - Jun 1, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    Defense wins championships. Wade and Lebron know that. Mike D’Antoni’s teams play ZERO defense! Fire D’Antoni and you’ll get your superstars.

  10. Rich - Jun 1, 2010 at 2:56 AM

    HEY ROB NEWMAN
    Devin Harris plays for the New Jersey Nets ya moron!

  11. Moriarty - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:05 AM

    Just to elaborate a little on what King Kong is trying to say, Miami hasn’t spent the past couple of seasons trying to surround Wade with a supporting cast that would contend for a championship. They have tried to remain competitive while all along for two years now, the plan has been to become major players in this summer’s free agency.
    You talk about how Cleveland has already put together a great supporting cast and shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to surround Lebron with a great supporting cast.
    Uh, did we not just find how truly great that supporting cast is during the past two seasons? Riley has stated several times during the past few seasons that he doesn’t want to make a good move here and there and be not all that much better than the team he currently had. Which as far as I can see, is what Cleveland has done for Lebron.
    You talked about how Wade already has a championship. That ring didn’t magically drop from the sky. That ring is proof that Riley and Heat not only have the willingness to do whatever it takes but also that they can put together a championship team.
    And did you just say a core of Wade, Gallinari and David Lee is a championship contender by any chance??????

  12. Moriarty - Jun 1, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    Just to elaborate a little on what King Kong is trying to say, Miami hasn’t spent the past couple of seasons trying to surround Wade with a supporting cast that would contend for a championship. They have tried to remain competitive while all along for two years now, the plan has been to become major players in this summer’s free agency.
    You talk about how Cleveland has already put together a great supporting cast and shown a willingness to do whatever it takes to surround Lebron with a great supporting cast.
    Uh, did we not just find how truly great that supporting cast is during the past two seasons? Riley has stated several times during the past few seasons that he doesn’t want to make a good move here and there and be not all that much better than the team he currently had. Which as far as I can see, is what Cleveland has done for Lebron.
    You talked about how Wade already has a championship. That ring didn’t magically drop from the sky. That ring is proof that Riley and Heat not only have the willingness to do whatever it takes but also that they can put together a championship team.
    And did you just say a core of Wade, Gallinari and David Lee is a championship contender by any chance??????

  13. DOLPHINSHEATMARLINSREDSOX - Jun 1, 2010 at 4:30 AM

    WADE ISNT GOING ANYWHERE AND HES GOT A FEW OF HIS BUDDIES COMING JOIN HIM SOON ENOUGH JUST WATCH NY..THE KNICKS ARE CURSED AND SO ARE THE NETS. NO MATTER WHAT CITY THEY PLAY IN

  14. Randall - Jun 1, 2010 at 8:27 AM

    NOBODY who wants to win is signing in NY. They have NOTHING to offer but money. And this:
    “and their only quality young player is Danilo Gallinari”
    David Lee, anyone? Of course they have to let him go to get that 2nd max contract. But they’ll still have Danilo :)
    You point out Cleveland can offer LBJ the most money. NEWS FLASH: Replace “Cleveland” w/ “Miami”, replace “LBJ” w/ “DWade”. And Miami is allowed to make trades too, in case you weren’t aware.

  15. Robert Newman - Jun 1, 2010 at 9:37 AM

    OK Sexy Rexy,
    I’m tired of the Yanks and Jetter too, but as long as there is no revenue sharing in MLB, Steinbrenner can pretty much buy championships because of the lucrative media deals that the Yanks can negotiate. I love D. Wade, but realistically, why would he want to come play for the Knicks? Labron James has demonstrated that you don’t have to play in a big market like NY, LA or Boston to get your due. That’s the beauty of television and the Internet. Of course it was not long ago that Kevin Garnet, Gasol, Vince Carter, and Ray Allen were sort of playing in obscurity, but they did not have much of a supporting cast with their old teams. If you crave the spotlight and want to be in the movies after your career, then LA makes sense. If you want to be a sports caster, NY or Boston might help out your career but there are so many exceptions to this observation that I could not list them all.

  16. sexy rexy - Jun 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    ugh Robert Oldman you wanna be king of the world? Then MAKE IT IN NEW YORK. This article makes perfect sense. I believe HOVA said it best in “Empire State of Mind”, I bet you got that song on your ipod don’t you?

  17. sexy rexy - Jun 1, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    This guy said Vince Carter! VINCE CARTER. *blank stare*

  18. paul - Jun 1, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    The knicks only quality player is Gallinari??? What about Wilson Chandler? Chandler is still very young, averaged 15 ppg last season when he wasn’t even 100% healthy, plays solid defense and has one of the best right hand drives in the league. I’d say that is a quality player. In fact, Toney Douglas has actually shown he has a bright future in the league as well–over the final 18 games he averaged 14.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 steals, and 3.3 rpg. Yeah , it was only 18 games, but that’s a pretty decent sample. Even Bill Walker showed some glimpses of being a pretty solid role player. It’s too bad the knicks get so little national coverage, otherwise people would know more about these guys

  19. paul - Jun 1, 2010 at 10:24 AM

    The knicks only quality player is Gallinari??? What about Wilson Chandler? Chandler is still very young, averaged 15 ppg last season when he wasn’t even 100% healthy, plays solid defense and has one of the best right hand drives in the league. I’d say that is a quality player. In fact, Toney Douglas has actually shown he has a bright future in the league as well–over the final 18 games he averaged 14.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 1.3 steals, and 3.3 rpg. Yeah , it was only 18 games, but that’s a pretty decent sample. Even Bill Walker showed some glimpses of being a pretty solid role player. It’s too bad the knicks get so little national coverage, otherwise people would know more about these guys

  20. Craig W. - Jun 1, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    Nobody has mentioned the state tax rate in Florida. The rate is zero (0), Nada.
    If it is money he wants Wade will stay in Florida. I agree with the contingent that the most likely move is Amare to Miami and Wade stays where he is.

  21. Swiss Gear - Jun 1, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    Oh wah, oh wah, cool cool kitty
    D Wade is going to New York City

  22. john canker - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:38 PM

    robert you are a freaking moron. For one, Devon Harris is not on the knicks, he is on the nets. And you have a lot of nerve to say a free agent will not sign in nyc because of al qaeda. I would spit in your face.

  23. Miami Trooper - Jun 2, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    Paul, did you just say Wilson Chandler has one of the best right handed drives in the league?!?! Can I get some of what you are smoking?
    And Robert Newman.. You really do sound like a racist prick that lives in some shack in Ohio pal. The “lifestyle” in nyc does not include a fear of an imminent terrorist attack, nor does it include Devon harris who plays for the nets. douche bag.

  24. Shaq - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    I wantz ai hamburger NAoW~!

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