D'Antoni made a startling admission yesterday, during the Knicks' first summer-league practice yesterday at Valley High: One star may not feel comfortable coming to the Knicks next season without a marquee sidekick.
D'Antoni implored the Knicks must get significantly better this season
to be more attractive to a free agent class in 2010 that includes LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Eight straight losing seasons haven't made the Knicks the NBA place-to-be, with Hill and Kidd using the Knicks as bargaining chips. The Knicks have cap space next summer for the superstar-studded free-agent class, but will James, Wade, Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire want to join a losing program on their own? Hill and Kidd didn't.
"That's why we might have to get two together," D'Antoni said. "Because by myself? I don't believe it totally [because] some guys think no matter what team they're on, they'll be really good."
However, squeezing in two marquee free agents is looking impossible, with predictions the salary cap could shrink to $50 million in 2010.
That's why D'Antoni said youngsters Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler will have to elevate their games this season
to a point in which a player like James or Wade will want to join the band.
But how likely is that? Gallinari is doing running with the summer-league team as he recovers from back surgery and is essentially a rookie after playing just 27games. Chandler is recovering from ankle surgery.
"A lot depends on Gallo," D'Antoni said
. "We got to have Gallo step up. We have to have Wilson step up. We got to have a good year. We have to show that Gallo is a budding star. Wilson is a budding star. Somebody's got to go, "those two guys and us two. Yeah, we can do that."