With the chances slim of adding a quality center with the 17th pick in the draft and with an unkind salary cap situation in 2011, sources close to Knicks president Donnie Walsh say he has targeted Kings 6-foot-11 shotblocker Samuel Dalembert as the likeliest free-agent catch this summer.
Walsh's old-school principles have made adding a big, bruising starting defensive center to play alongside power forward Amar'e Stoudemire as his No. 1 priority. It might be a strong enough urge to sacrifice what could be maximum cap room in 2012, essentially sacrificing a shot at point guard Chris Paul.
The Knicks realize some top free agents likely will stay put or be out of their financial range. Memphis' Marc Gasol and Dallas' Tyson Chandler are expected to re-sign, and the Clippers probably will match an offer to the young DeAndre Jordan.
That's where Dalembert comes in. According to a source, Dalembert likely would choose the Knicks if their offer is comparable with any others.
Dalembert has strong New York-area ties. He played his senior year in high school at St. Patrick's in Elizabeth, N.J., before heading to Seton Hall. An avid fundraiser for Haiti's economic plight, he also likes the visibility of being a voice for New York's large Haitian population.