Understandably, the New York Knicks may feel a little left out of tonight's NBA lottery party. Even though Isiah Thomas has been gone for some time, his fingerprints remain. The Knicks' first round pick this year belongs to the Utah Jazz as part of a deal Thomas made six years ago to acquire Stephon Marbury.
So the Knicks won't have a horse in tonight's race, but that doesn't mean Knicks fans should tune out. In fact, as crazy as it sounds, for one night and one night only, Knicks fans should quietly root for another NBA team to land the No. 1 pick. Who's that team?
The Los Angeles Clippers.
Why? Because it brings LeBron James one step closer to donning a Knicks jersey next year.
If the Clippers (who admittedly only have a 2.3 percent chance) luck out with the No. 1 overall pick for the second straight year, they will almost undoubtedly select Kentucky freshman phenom John Wall. In that scenario, the Clippers would need to find a taker for Baron Davis and his hefty contract -- he's owed $41 million through 2012-13. The Knicks would almost certainly be calling.
Why would Donnie Walsh want to acquire Baron Davis and his contract? Because it would not only give the Knicks a real starting point guard, but more importantly it would free up even more cap space to surround LeBron with talent -- something that the Knicks lack compared to the other suitors. Eddy Curry's $11.2 million contract that expires in 2010-11 can only be a useful trading chip with a team that is looking to unload a big multiyear contract. That team is the Clippers, if they can just secure the last ping-pong ball tonight.
If the Knicks offered Toney Douglas, Eddy Curry and Wilson Chandler for Davis, that would net them approximately an extra $1.5 million to spend on free agents this summer. So instead of having $34.5 million in cap space room to sign free agents, they would have $36 million -- enough to be able to sign James and Chris Bosh, and still have another $2 million left over to spend on the roster. As of right now, the Knicks will only have $300,000 to net a third free agent, which is as good as nothing.
Without finding someone to take on Curry's expiring contract, the Knicks won't have a legitimate starting point guard to run the Mike D'Antoni show. This deal gives them that, and valuable space under the cap to fill out the roster. As for the Clippers, they'd net a backup point guard for Wall, a solid player in Chandler to fill their small forward position, and most importantly, a way out of the Davis contract.
So if the Clippers win the lottery tonight, the Knicks could be looking at a starting five of Baron Davis, LeBron James, Danilo Gallinari, Chris Bosh and whoever they choose to spend their $2 million on. That's a team fans could root for.
Tom Haberstroh is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider and an NBA analyst for Hoopdata.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @tomhaberstroh.