In late October, LeBron James tweeted, "Would love to see @JCrossover in a Heat uni! What u guys say?" He was referring to unrestricted free agent, Jamal Crawford, who played for the Hawks last season.
Well, James and the Heat may have some competition heading into the proposed free agency period starting Dec. 9. Crawford has landed closer to New York City, by way of his just-hired New Jersey-based agent, Andy Miller, and according to the New York Daily News, that could possibly mean a return to the Knicks. Crawford, who played in New York from 2004 to '08, has expressed interest in returning. Coincidentally, Miller currently represents three other Knicks: Chauncey Billups, Jared Jeffries (unrestricted FA) and Roger Mason Jr. (unrestricted FA).
But the question is: Do the Knicks trust Toney Douglas enough to be their long-term, consistent backup point guard? There's no doubt he can shoot, but can he develop into the distributor the Knicks want him to be as well?
Those answers could determine what the team will look for at the guard position, come next Friday: either a free agent backup or a sixth-man scorer like Crawford, who has been one of the best bench players in the league over the past two seasons. Last year, he averaged 14.2 points in 30.2 minutes per game. The Knicks know they'll have to monitor more closely their star players' minutes, especially STAT with his aging knees, so they'll find additional comfort in resting either of them during a game and still putting points on the board.
Being that the Knicks will slightly be over the cap, but well under the luxury tax threshold, they will have the full mid-level exception to use (four years, $5 million per). While Crawford may bargain for more money, the attraction to play with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, not to mention reunite with former Hawks head coach, Mike Woodson, may appeal to him.
But then again, the Knicks may be conservative with their spending, and go after a backup like Sebastian Telfair, who would likely not only accept lesser money for a chance to win a championship, but be head over heels about returning to his hometown city. And oh, by the way, Telfair is also repped by Miller.
At the end of the day, with Douglas and Iman Shumpert on the roster, the Knicks know their short-term need is at center. Therefore, chances are more likely that they'll amnesty a player (perhaps Renaldo Balkman?) and try to use their veterans’ minimum ($1.4 million) on a cheap center who can help with defense and rebounding, where the Knicks struggled mightily last season. That price tag may not be enough for someone reliable, but it's enough to spend on another big body and still make room for Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in 2012.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.