Knicks have hard time sticking with the plan

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After the long-overdue regime change for the New York Knicks, new General Manager Donnie Walsh had a plan — do anything and everything to cut payroll, get the team under the salary cap and by 2010 start going after big time free agents to drastically remake the roster.

Ahh, but the best laid plans of mice and men…

But there are 32 games to play first, and priorities to clarify: Do the Knicks want to make the playoffs at any cost? Or will they focus on developing their young core of Gallinari, Chandler, Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas? It is an internal debate that has been brewing for two years.

Coach Mike D’Antoni has been hyperfocused on buffing up the Knicks’ record for the sake of restoring the franchise’s credibility and making it more attractive to top free agents. So he has given major roles to veterans with no place in the Knicks’ future, including Harrington, Robinson, Larry Hughes and Jared Jeffries. Meanwhile, Hill and Douglas, the Knicks’ top two rookies, have been stuck on the bench.

The trading deadline will tell who wins the battle of wills in the front office. If they go out and get another veteran, the goal is clearly to close the 4.5 game gap and get themselves into the playoffs. (That’s a lot of ground to make up.) If they stand pat, expect to see a lot more of Douglas and Hill, wins be damned.

But what about any part of this process looks attractive to LeBron James?