Beyond that, the position has been manned by a generous cast of journeymen, veterans past their primes and the occasional earnest overachiever, like Charlie Ward. Irving has two things none of them had: an electric offensive game and a championship ring.
In an era when point-guard productivity appears to be more essential than ever, it’s easy to envision James L. Dolan, the Garden strongman, pacing outside the office of the team president, Steve Mills, and poking his head inside to inquire about an Irving deal, like an impatient child from the back seat of the car.
Are we there yet?
And this is where it would all get eerily familiar, especially as the Knicks cling to the hope that Carmelo Anthony — if and when convinced that a trade to Houston is not workable — would eventually waive his no-trade clause to go to Cleveland and join his buddy James for a high-percentage run to the N.B.A. finals next spring.
As training camp approaches and Anthony weighs his options, that could happen. But he is 33. Irving is 25. The Cavaliers are not trading away eight years even-up. They do not have to deal Irving, who is two years away from contractual freedom. They want to, though. Which sounds a Knicks history alert, as we well know how Dolan responded the last time such a carrot was put in front of him, a little more than six years ago.
Let’s consider the ways in which the Irving situation is reminiscent of what occurred in early 2011, when Dolan big-footed Donnie Walsh, then his lead basketball executive, and surrendered a package of players and draft picks to Denver to acquire Anthony. Which left the Knicks bereft of assets upon which to become more than a showcase for the man called Melo.
Like Anthony, Irving apparently wants a grander stage for his highlight reel and has a reported desire to be his new stage’s unquestioned leading man (though the latter part may be overstated and more a mission to be out from James’s shadow).
Like Anthony, Irving has a reputation for isolation play, and for being no more than an adequate passer, not ideal when you’re a point guard known for monopolizing the ball (in Cleveland, especially when James was off the…