Winning an NBA championship in the next three seasons will be difficult for any squad.
The Miami Heat trio of superstars will still be in their prime.
Even with teams that talented competing against them, the New York Knicks will win their first Larry O’Brien Trophy since 1973 in one of the next three seasons.
Last July, the Knicks signed Amar'e Stoudemire—who had an MVP-caliber season in 2010-2011—and got Carmelo Anthony this past February via trade. They made the playoffs last season for the first time since 2004, and didn’t have to pay a single dollar of luxury tax for the first time since 1999.
If the 2011-2012 NBA season is magically saved, the Knicks could land a free agent who could help them continue growing.
Nene would be a great target, but probably won’t end up playing next to Stoudemire, since the Brazilian center will command a hefty amount of cash. Samuel Dalembert is another option, who comes cheaper and would provide a needed interior defensive presence.
The Knicks have been clearly planning for the 2012 free-agency period, removing $19,538,390 from their payroll after next season. That free cap space will help in pursuing Chris Paul, Dwight Howard or Deron Williams, who could help New York form a superstar trio to rival Miami’s.
Chris Paul—arguably the NBA’s best point guard—has already hinted at forming a Big Three in New York alongside Anthony and Stoudemire. While his statement could be written off as just talk, it’s feasible to think he’s seriously thought about pairing up with the Knicks superstars.
Possibly the biggest obstacle in the way of Chris Paul donning an orange and blue jersey is the next collective bargaining agreement. There’s a chance it will initiate a hard salary cap, removing the flexible cap that teams were allowed to exceed by paying a luxury tax.
Still, it’s difficult to imagine the league setting a hard cap at the number the salary cap was at in 2010-2011—$58 million—since big-spending teams like the Heat, Lakers and Dallas Mavericks would likely blow up their rosters just to get under the limit. That would be a bad move for the NBA, considering how much hype and revenue those teams generate.
Even if a hard salary cap does rear its ugly head, the Knicks will only be on the books for $41,073,799 in 2012-2013 and should have room to sign Paul. While he may not receive max money, the four-time All-Star may take less to be on a great team, and would have numerous monetary opportunities in New York City.
Paul, Anthony and Stoudemire could certainly rival the Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade Big Three. The Knicks’ potential trio would feature better complementing pieces than Miami’s, and would have a superstar at the NBA’s most important position—point guard.
The Knicks have some major issues to address on defense, but Paul, who has averaged 2.4 steals per game in his career, won’t let anybody slack off, including Anthony and Stoudemire. The superstar point guard would arguably be the Knicks' best overall player, so his words will resonate.
If Anthony and Stoudemire add a consistent defensive energy to their already explosive offensive games, the Knicks would have three of the NBA’s 10 best players. Regardless of whether Mike D’Antoni—who’s famous for not knowing what the word defense means—tries to bring about a defensive dedication, the Big Three’s intensity will rub off onto the rest of the team.
The New York Knicks will win an NBA championship within the next three seasons. It definitely won’t happen next season—unless the season commences in November 2012—but once Chris Paul signs on the dotted line, Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Dallas and Los Angeles all better watch out.
I know this prediction might sound ludicrous, but in the NBA, anything is possible.
For the sake of guessing, I say the Knicks win it all in 2014 over the Thunder.