Knicks' plan: LeBron, Amare and Johnson

July, 1, 2010
7/01/10
12:56
PM ET
Broussard By Chris Broussard
ESPN.com
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The Knicks met with Joe Johnson and Mike Miller late Wednesday night in Los Angeles. The meeting with Johnson went well. Although it may be hard for the Knicks to pry the Atlanta shooting guard away from a max contract offer from the Hawks, the Knicks left the meeting feeling confident that they are at least under consideration.

The Knicks' interest in Miller is due to his shooting ability, and also the realization that LeBron James is a fan of Miller's. If the Knicks can sign two max players or three superstars (more on that below), they'd have roughly $2.8 million left for Miller. He's worth much more than that on the open market, but the Knicks would try to sell him on the opportunities to win.

As for Amare Stoudemire, the Knicks spoke with Stoudemire at 9:01 p.m. Pacific time, and after meeting with Johnson and Miller, they saw Stoudemire face-to-face at a hotel in Los Angeles. It was a brief get-together just to touch base, as the Knicks were rushing to board their plane to Cleveland to meet with James Thursday afternoon. The Knicks set up a meeting with Stoudemire for Sunday in New York.

Now back to the Knicks' "three superstars'' plan. It seems like a pipe dream, but the Knicks hope to sell James, Johnson and Stoudemire on the idea of taking far less money to come to New York. They can offer each player a four-year deal that averages $15.7 million with an opt-out after three years. Then, the Knicks would pay the players more since they'd have their Bird rights. Another big part of this plan is the Knicks' ability to sign another max-salary player in the summer of 2011 after Eddy Curry's contract expires. The Knicks have targeted Carmelo Anthony, assuming he doesn't accept Denver's three-year, $65 million contract extension offer.

The Knicks will try to sell their three targets on the idea that, unlike Chicago and Miami, they will be able to add major talent to those three stars in the future.

If James doesn't go for that scenario, which is very likely, the Knicks will offer both Johnson and Stoudemire the max. Of course, if James is willing to go to New York with one of those two players, they'll max James and choose between the other two.

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