The summer of 2010, the summer when the Knicks could have reestablished itself as one of the NBA’s power franchises, is a memory.

No, they did not meet their objective of snagging two franchise players.

They didn’t even land one franchise player. While the signing of Amare Stoudemire, formerly of the Phoenix Suns, to a five-year, $100 million deal was significant, it doesn’t come close to elevating the Knicks to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

Stoudemire, who will turn 28 in November, is in the prime of his career, a career that thus far has been very good. In eight seasons, all with the Suns prior to joining the Knicks this past July, he compiled the impressive stats – Stats happens to be his nickname – of 21.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

However, since the 2004-05 season, when Steve Nash joined the Suns, Stoudemire has been Robin to Nash’s Batman, a role he filled ably if not spectacularly. Now he is The Man for the Knicks, something that was not supposed to be.

The Knicks did everything in their power to lure LeBron James and Chris Bosh to New York, only to learn they were never really in the running. So they were left with Stoudemire. An outstanding consolation but not the No. 1 they continue to covet.

That player is Carmelo Anthony. It’s no secret Anthony desperately wants to be a Knick. And the Knicks’ immediate future, roughly the next three or four years, as a potential championship caliber team, is contingent on them acquiring the 26-year old star. With Anthony and Stats Stoudemire in the fold, Chris Paul would soon follow.

The Knicks would then be the Miami Heat’s equal, or maybe better. If Anthony winds up someplace else, the Knicks will be no better than a fifth or sixth seed in the East for the next several years. That’s why when they begin the 2010-11 regular season next Wednesday in Toronto versus the Raptors, the Knicks can shift the NBA’s balance of power by getting him.

The Suns have taken a step back by losing Stoudemire and are no longer a serious title threat in the Western Conference. Whenever the Nuggets part ways with Anthony, the same can be said for them. As for the Knicks, they will be better. But without Anthony, their improvement will inevitably become stagnant.