Knicks have eyes for free agent Samuel Dalembert

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The Knicks are talking defense this summer.

Which is a change of pace since they didn’t play any last season.

But while the talk of defense has in part focused on Mike D’Antoni and his coaching style (reports are he’s being pushed to hire an assistant as a defensive coordinator) that ignores the real problem — you have to have good defensive players. The Knicks don’t.

So team president Donnie Walsh wants to go out and get one, reports the New York Post.

With the chances slim of adding a quality center with the 17th pick in the draft and with an unkind salary cap situation in 2011, sources close to Knicks president Donnie Walsh say he has targeted Kings 6-foot-11 shotblocker Samuel Dalembert as the likeliest free-agent catch this summer.

There are bigger names but right now you know Memphis is going to match any offer for Marc Gasol, while Tyson Chandler can expect a healthy offer from Dallas. Dalembert is someone you can get.

All of this is dependent on what the new collective bargaining agreement allows the Knicks to do. With Chauncey Billups returning, the Knicks are already over the current salary cap for next season. They would need something like the mid-level exception to go get Dalembert (or just about anyone else) but there are rumors that the mid-level could be wiped out in the new CBA (a lot of owners don’t like it because they misuse it, and this CBA is about protecting the owners from themselves).

The post reports that Walsh may even be willing to sacrifice some of the treasured 2012 cap space to get a center, because the new CBA may make adding a Chris Paul or Dwight Howard impossible anyway.

Just something to watch. Whenever the lockout ends and free agency begins. Which may well be a while.