(there are many photos of Tracy McGrady to choose from online, but only one of him reading Vogue)

It took 3 teams, 10 players, two draft picks and more speculation than any trade involving non-contenders ought to normally generate, but Donnie Walsh finally has his man expiring contract.  New York’s trade deadline gambit to land the chronically injured Tracy McGrady — while an admission the past two years of D’Antoni ball has been nothing more than a waste of time until Summer 2010 — reduces Walsh’s GM tenure to the most basic terms ; either he lands a pair of highly coveted free agents or the post-Isiah era is a probably bust. The New York Times’ Larry Coon is cautiously optimistic, writing this past Tuesday that while unloading the Eddy Curry Suppression Ring might’ve been cool, “moving Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill in exchange for $9 million additional cap space this summer is a reasonable Plan B.”

With an estimated $53 million cap next summer, the Knicks would stand to have as much as $31.5 million with which to pursue free agents. The cream of the crop ” LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh ” can each sign for $16.57 million, so the Knicks can almost afford two of them. They would still be about $1.7 million short of making a maximum offer to two of these players.

But they would have options. One scheme would be to sign one of these players for the full $16.57 million and then pursue a player on the next rung down, like Atlanta™s Joe Johnson, who might sign for slightly less.

Another possibility would be to sign a maximum-salary free agent while hanging onto David Lee. Lee will continue to count against the Knicks™ cap while he is a free agent, unless the Knicks sign him or renounce him, or he signs elsewhere. To gain the full $31.5 million of cap room they would need to renounce Lee, along with all their other free agents. If they renounce everyone else, Lee would eat up an additional $10 million of their cap space, leaving them with about $21.5 million to spend on other players.

While Cleveland, Miami and Toronto will all have the right to sign their respective megastars to more lucrative pacts than they can receive on the open market, it appears last night’s dumping of John Salmon and Tyrus Thomas all but guarantees the Bulls will be major players this summer. Even more so when you consider they’d probably let Dwayne Wade select their next coach.