The Knicks are targeting Joe Johnson as their No. 1 free agent choice and believe he's a better fit for the team than LeBron James, according to an NBA source with knowledge of the team's plans.
"Yes, we think he's a better player," the source said of Johnson. "He makes other people better. With LeBron's people running the locker room that hurts the organization."
The source also mentioned concerns about James' entourage taking over the franchise.
"I don't care what most people think," the source said. "I'm not saying that LeBron is not a good player, but other stuff comes with it. LeBron's friends want jobs. You're gonna lose running your organization. As time goes on you got to hire this guy, you got to hire that guy."
Led by president Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Knicks are scheduled to meet with Johnson on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Free agents cannot officially meet with teams until midnight ET on Thursday, or 9 p.m. on the West Coast.
Johnson played for D'Antoni in 2004 and '05 with the Suns. He was then shipped to Atlanta for Boris Diaw and two first-round picks.
He averaged 21.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.6 rebounds last season in Atlanta.
The Hawks can offer him a six-year deal worth $125 million, and the Knicks can offer five years and $96 million.
After meeting with Johnson, the Knicks will meet with Amar'e Stoudemire in Los Angeles on Wednesday before going to meet with James in the Akron, Ohio, area.
The source said the team's No. 1 option would be to land Johnson and Stoudemire.
"Yeah, we'll have room next year to get somebody next year," the source said, referring to the 2011 free agency class that includes Carmelo Anthony.
Asked who would play point guard with the Knicks next season, the source said Toney Douglas would. He also said the Knicks could pursue Steve Blake.
This comes amid an ESPN.com report that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh met last weekend in Miami to "seriously discuss their futures."
The report quoted a source that labeled Miami "as the frontrunner to land James in a package deal with Bosh," and to re-sign Wade.