BIG ups to the Cavaliers, who came into New York and rode roughshod over it . . . you know, like Bloomberg. As usual, the Knicks' sorry showing against the Cavs provokes the same old question:
Why would LeBron James want to join forces with this motley crew's skeleton remains (with apologies to Eddy Curry) if he's aiming for a championship bull's-eye?
Well, let's get two things straight at the top:
Foremost, one of LeBron closest confidants, in response to those who mocked my disclosure Cavs chairman Dan Gilbert is terrified his meal ticket will abscond should the team not win a title, declared to friends, "They (Dan and his entourage; young owners have them, too) better be scared!"
Secondly, the Knicks are not the lone team LeBron will consider when he becomes an unrestricted free agent come July 1. Despite people's sarcastic opinion of the Nyets, count on them being a real contender for his simonized services.
Clearly, the Newark, er, Brooklyn-bound franchise flaunts gobs more promising personnel than Camp Cablevision's varmints, many who must be renounced (David Lee, Al Harrington, Chris Duhon, Larry Hughes and Nate Robinson can kiss their 'Bird rights' bye-bye) in order to Make Room For Daddy.
What's more, according to someone in the know, LeBron is viewing the Bulls as a wild card challenger; no other suitor need apply.
That explains why rising restricted free agent Tyrus Thomas, who suffered a forearm fracture in the weight room Friday that required surgery (out six weeks minimum), wasn't given an extension. Chicago definitely believes it has a shot at luring LeBron. As talented as Thomas is, the Bulls secured two excellent rookie forwards - Brooklyn's Taj Jami Gibson and James Johnson - in the draft and figure to have roughly $20 million in cap room in case LeBron feels the urge to replicate Air Jordan's Windy City flight plan.
As for the Knicks , guaranteed I could find 11 above-average NBA players who'd love to play for the veteran's minimum or thereabouts (one would command a maximum mid-level exception contract) for the opportunity to suit up alongside LeBron in New York in year one. When Curry and Jared Jeffries come off the cap the summer of 2011, the Knicks would then be able to recruit another certified stud or two and actually be in possession of their own first round draft pick.
To those who don't believe one word of the above or that LeBron would never leave his home state of Ohio, I say, hide and watch.
Jeff Van Gundy told The Post the Knicks "made no upgrades this summer, protecting their salary-cap space for 2010 so they can be in position to sign the Cavaliers superstar as a free agent. The question is, do you [the fans] have the stomach for this plan?"
Column contributor George Caballero's sentiments are shared by many. "The only thing I can't stomach, Jeff, are coaches who quit 19 games into the season."
Furthermore, Van Gundy ruins every broadcast. During last night's ESPN game, he said, "If LeBron really cares about winning, he should sign for the minimum next summer so his team will have room to sign other players."
Yeah, right, the guy who doubled Cleveland's franchise value should play for 12th-Man Money.
When Mark Jackson branded that statement ridiculous, Van Gundy tried to pretend he was only kidding.
At least, TNT confines Charles Barkley's blithering foreign-tongue gobbledygook to halftime and post-game.
The subject is Celtics' three-point attempts: What does it say when Boston boasts a premier playmaker in Rajon Rondo (leads league in assist-to-turnover ratio, 4.6-1) and the Vitamin Cs are obsessed with upchucking from Copley Place?
Against the shockingly effective 5-1 Suns Friday night, the now 7-1 Celtics aborted 14 of 18 from downtown. They were averaging 20.57 attempts going into last night's 86-76 win in New Jersey. Last season they averaged 16.52. Shades of things to come? Tired legs produced 1-10 vs. the Nets, including 0-4 by Rasheed Wallace and 0-3 from Ray Allen.
Most amazing is Wallace has hoisted 50 trifectas, converting 17, in 175 minutes, whereas Allen has managed to squeeze off but 35 rounds (12 makes) in 281 minutes.
Huh? Kevin Garnett's notched zero free throws in 35 minutes?lofting up 20 field goal tries, downing 13?against a Suns team that has nary a center capable of blocking a shot.
Joe Johnson voiced displeasure at his teammates' selfish, non-role playing ways of late - even in victory at Portland and Sacramento - following Friday night's loss to the Bobtails in Charlotte on the last leg of a four-game journey.
Evidently, they paid strict attention to their leader as the Hawks mauled the Kenyon Martin-less Nuggets, 125-100. Josh Smith was stupendous! His multi-dimensional talent was responsible for 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six Null n' Voits.
Better yet, Smith committed a total of one turnover and didn't attempt a single 3-pointer. Clearly, he's paying strict attention to coach Mike Woodson.
It was bad news for the Grizzlies Friday night at the Office Supply Center. They lost by 16 to the Lakers after playing them even for a half. Worse than that, no one on the roster is worth gifting to the Purple Feign.
By the way, am I only one waiting for Tim Donaghy to make Oprah's Bookie's Club?
Play Basketball Hot Streak and win prizes!