Knicks owner Dolan is the rational guy in the room

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It has come down to this — if you want to see NBA basketball soon, you need to root for the rational mind of James Dolan to prevail.

Yes, the Knicks’ James Dolan. The band front man and loyal friend of Isiah Thomas. That rational mind. He is now a guy you can pin your hopes on. And if you’re a Knicks fan, hope that he is really impressing people in the negotiations.

Marc Berman at the New York Post explains.

According to a players source, Dolan has been the least combative of the owners and often serves as a mediator during contentious moments.

“He’s tried to keep the parties on point,’’ the source said. “He’s trying to make a deal, seeing a positive spin. He’s been, in a word, productive.’’

Dolan has long been thought to be a dove — he’s a big market owner who was already making money, he’s got a buzz about his team now that he doesn’t want to kill, plus he’s got a new building (with new revenue streams) to christen.

For Knicks fans, there is a whole subtext to this — what few “concessions” the players have gotten could help build the Knicks up in the future. Again Berman.

According to multiple sources, one of the resolved issues in a new CBA is the 2011 salary cap will remain at the level as it was in 2010 — $58 million.

“That’s what we’ve been discussing, though the exact dollar amount is not set until the new deal is done,’’ said one league source, who added no new talks have yet been scheduled.

Economic projections from sources say the salary cap will then grow to about $60-$61 million in 2012, when the Knicks will have the largest cap space in the league and have room to woo either Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, who are slated to become free agents. The Knicks could be at least $20 million under the projected 2012 cap.

Ironically, Dolan has been seated across from Paul, who is the Knicks’ top priority, during many of the labor bargaining sessions because Paul is on the union’s negotiation committee.

Of course, the longer the lockout drags on the more off those economic projections for the future will be. And the harder it will be on the Knicks to do anything. So Dolan is pushing to get a deal done. Now.

Come one New York, Dolan is your guy. Pull for him. Right now he’s the guy for all of us who want hoops. Which doesn’t make me feel comfortable.