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MARK HEISLER / ON THE NBA

Casting a pall over the Knicks' dreams

New York might want to add Chris Paul to their Garden party, but he's not the player he used to be.

March 05, 2011|Mark Heisler
  • Knicks teammates Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony celebrate after a basket against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Knicks teammates Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony celebrate after… (Mike Segar / Reuters )

Now for the arrival of the 13th Knick....

Or not.

"Our own Big Three" reunited last week, eight months after Chris Paul joked about forming it with Amare Stoudemire in his toast at Carmelo Anthony's wedding … in New York, of course.

That was when Denver owner Stan Kroenke stomped out, went home and told his people to trade Melo.

If Paul says it was in fun, Kroenke and the entire body of psychiatry say there's no such thing as a joke.

Even with Paul stuck in New Orleans, it was as if Creative Artists, the Movie Star Agency, had brought him in for the 2011-12 Team Picture of Knick Dreams.

After two years of staging LeBronstock festivals in vain, fans partied as if it were 2012, chanting, "We want Paul!" as the Knicks romped over the Hornets.

With everyone gushing about the Old Electricity Back, etc., there was just one cloud on the horizon.

Actually, it's more like an Arctic front or, the glaciers moving south.

That was Chris Paul?

If that was just one clunker (four points, 10 assists), he had had five weeks of them, shooting 39.9%, against a three-year 49% average.

As Robert Burns wrote, without ever seeing a Knick, "The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry."

Knicks are more like cartoon characters that keep getting anvils dropped on them. Their plans don't oft go awry, 100% of them blow up.

Paul is coming off knee surgery, playing in a new offense in which he no longer dominates the ball a la Steve Nash.

"If you're talking about competitiveness, intangibles, leadership ability, that's all there," said Sacramento personnel director Jerry Reynolds.

"As far as quickness, the ability to separate, I don't see the same guy. I think the game has become harder for him."

As insiders know ... and NBA lawyers will bomb the Knicks back to the Stone Age if they find proof ... Knicks owner James Dolan went bonkers for Anthony after being assured Paul would follow as a free agent in 2012.

Not that arranging it looks hard.

CAA's Leon Rose represents both Anthony and Paul.

Rose's associate, CAA street-agent-gone-more-or-less-straight Wes Wesley, remains close to former GM Isiah Thomas, who remains close to Dolan.

These days, it's hard to tell CAA and the Knicks apart.

Allan Houston, being groomed to succeed GM Donnie Walsh, was just asked to leave his agent to join Wesley, as was new personnel director Mark Warkentien.

As Sir Walter Scott wrote in 1808, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave/when first we practice to deceive."

I don't know what happened then, but I'd put this up against it.

The Knicks' web is like a rope braided from gossamer strands, going down a well ... as the team has under the royal, or corporate, House of Dolan.

Charles Dolan ran Cablevision, making him impervious to customers, mayors — and even the Yankees and their fans after blacking out the team in Manhattan in 2002.

Charles handed MSG to his son, James, who's imperial as opposed to apologetic.

Secure in his corporate bastion, Jimbo I defied Mayor Michael Bloomberg and mighty Gotham interests, fighting a West Side stadium that would have brought back the NFL Jets, and their tax revenue.

Jimbo spent $8.5 million — of corporate money — on TV ads, on a whim.

Analyst Richard Greenfield told New York Magazine any loss MSG might suffer from losing an attraction to the stadium would be "a rounding error."

Wrote New York's Peter Keating: "Dolan and Cablevision seem to see the battle as a sporting event... What matters is not so much money as winning."

Or getting his way?

Urged by Commissioner David Stern to bring in someone after the Knicks became a local joke/embarrassment, Dolan hired Walsh but still gets his way.

Not that Jimbo didn't think it through (maybe Isiah, who coaches Florida International, had a game), but if this was July 1, 2012, the choice would be....

Deron Williams?

The new Net is considered the No. 1 point guard over fast-rising Derrick Rose, a better scorer but not as good a playmaker.

Paul, who once dominated the conversation, is barely in it.

Happily for the Knicks, Williams has been coolly polite to New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov's effusive welcome.

If the Knicks want D-Will, he's there!

So, why did Dolan have to give up four good players ages 22-23-24-26 — and everyone on the roster over 6-8½ in stocking feet — for Anthony again?

He didn't!

Quote, Hip New York Fans, unquote, partied on as if Melo were LeBron James, until the Cavaliers followed the Hornets into town and won.

At 3-3 with Anthony, their ball movement is gone and they defend even worse.

On the bright side, in 2012 they may have Williams or Paul, who may have built up his knee.

Of course, they'll still be smurfs, Amare and Melo still won't fit and they may not be as happy to play with a me-first, attention-seeking gunner.

What could go wrong now?

Oh, right, everything else.

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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