Is it really a rumor if it’s common knowledge? Common sense, even? If LeBron James is up for grabs, every team in the league wants him. It’d be like choosing not to upgrade to a suite at a hotel — if it’s available and doesn’t cost too much, everyone is going to take it.
According to the latest New York Knicks rumors, the Knicks are interested in LeBron James if he becomes a free agent this summer or next. Ian Begley writes:
In a perfect world for Phil Jackson & Co., LeBron opt outs out his contract after next season and tests free agency in the summer of 2015.
New York is expected to be well under the cap at that point and should have the money to make a serious play for James.
Begley then follows up with this quote from Brian Windhorst’s piece:
When James looks at his menu of options next month he will focus on being with a team that is built to contend for championships right now. Not in two years. Not after new teammates get their first taste of the playoffs. Now.
At age 29 and in his prime, James is not in the business of playing for a team that is still developing. He wouldn’t have much interest in losing a season while a coach is learning the ropes, either.
So, that pretty much eliminates the Knicks. A brief run-down of LeBron’s desires:
- A team with cap space (if he opts out in 2014, that eliminates New York. If he opts out in 2015, the Knicks will have some).
- A team ready to compete for a title right away
- A team that doesn’t employ a coach learning the ropes.
The Knicks are almost none of those things. This summer, regardless of whether Carmelo Anthony stays or leaves, they will still be employing the likes over Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Andrea Bargnani, all of whom eat up a majority of the Knicks’ cap space. In 2015, when the Knicks will come close to clearing their books, they will be major players for a solid free agent class, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be competing for a title.
Furthermore, based on Phil Jackson’s current handful of coaching prospects, they are all either rookie head coaches or guys with little experience. If the Knicks retain Anthony, clear their books in 2015, sign a second superstar and build a solid supporting cast, they will likely still not be title contenders, especially if they are employing just a second-year head coach.
These variables are all subject to change, but really, none of this suggests New York would be high on James’s list. Also factor in that it’s taken years for James to repair his images as a good guy in the NBA, not a villain, and leaving Miami where he’s won two titles to date for the pressure of New York, and what exactly is the appeal?
The Heat are poised for their fourth straight championship appearance, and if James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh choose to opt out, they will have a clean slate to work with. James, of course, is the centerpiece to any team, but Bosh and Wade could all take less money to help the Heat rebuild their supporting cast. Or if James and the Heat’s front office are so inclined, they can scour the free agent market in 2015 and rebuild around James and some new-comers.
I’ll take the upgrade to the suite any day, but I’m not going to hold my breath.