It’s been an NBA rumor since he came into the league in 2003, but could LeBron James wind up in New York with the Knicks?
The timing for LeBron to the Knicks has actually never been better as it’s clear that the greatest NBA player of this generation wants to finish his career in a major market, and he wants to go somewhere where he’ll have a legitimate superstar sidekick. In that regard, at least, the Knicks actually have a leg-up on the Lakers – who are the clear favorites to land LeBron in free agency next summer. Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram are nice pieces, but they’re nowhere close to being at the level Kristaps Porzingis is at right now.
Also, the LeBron to the Lakers stuff has become such a non-secret that some believe that LeBron is becoming upset at how “out there” everything is. LeBron is clearly a guy who likes to control every aspect of a situation. He also likes to keep people guessing.
Miami was not really on anyone’s radar early in the summer of 2010 in terms of landing spots for LeBron. He quite literally shocked the world with that decision.
Even when he returned to Cleveland in the summer of 2014, most thought he was simply going to re-sign with the Heat in the weeks prior.
Still eight months away from NBA free agency, everyone and their mother says that LeBron is going to the Lakers … except LeBron of course.
Everyone also has a theory about what LeBron’s passive-aggressive “Arthur fist” was about. Many speculated that it was about Kyrie Irving, or the current play of the Cavaliers. But it most definitely could be about the incessant chatter about him going to the Lakers – even though we’re not even a quarter of the way through this current NBA season.
So, if LeBron is having second thoughts about going to the Lakers, and a final act in Cleveland is out of the question (the Cavs have a worse cap situation than the Knicks right now) … New York could actually emerge as a landing spot for No. 23.
The Ringer.com’s Bill Simmons, who is as tied in to NBA circles as anyone (he’s the one who started the LeBron to the Lakers chatter, remember), brought up the possibility of LeBron going to the Knicks late last week.
Talking with NBC Sports’ Dan Patrick about how LeBron isn’t going to best Michael Jordan when it comes to career NBA titles (LeBron is still stuck on three rings while Jordan won six), Simmons talked about how impressive it would be if LeBron could go to a third franchise and lead that team to a championship. That’s when he dropped the “K-bomb.”
Simmons: “I’ve started to think over this past weekend while watching Porzingis … I’m starting to wonder if the Knicks are the move for him. I know his kids are already in school in LA and I think it’s probably already done (that he’s going to the Lakers). But imagine if he went to the Knicks with Porzingis, and they added a couple other pieces and he won the title with the Knicks?
“I know they don’t have the cap space. I know they’d probably have to frame Joakim Noah for murder or something to get him off the cap, but if he just goes to the Lakers it feels like … ya know, they’ve been tanking for five years, they have the cap space, it seems a little easier. But imagine going to the Knicks? I mean winning a title with the Knicks - and I know the Cubs have won a World Series - I would think winning a title with the Knicks, is there a greater achievement in sports at this point?”
Patrick: “Given where the Knicks are, and if he would somehow resurrect that … and (Madison Square Garden) is still the greatest building ever. With apologies to Bostonians, and of course I was there when the Lakers played in the (old Boston Garden) against Larry (Bird), Madison Square Garden is still the greatest arena ambiance-wise I’ve ever been in when it comes to a big moment. If LeBron brought that back to life?”
“You just have so many dead bodies there in New York, it’s can you clean up all of the carnage there and somehow make it look nice? It’s Porzingis, and who? It’s tough. And is (Jeff) Hornacek going to be your coach? And what kind of offense are you running? If you get LeBron there then you can get a free agent. When’s the last time a great free agent said, ‘I’m strongly considering the Knicks?’ That’s the tell-tale sign. You can’t get anybody that wants to go there and play.
Simmons: "Yup, (Kevin) Durant wouldn’t even have a meeting there. I think these NBA players are so conscious now of how well a team is run. And who the owner is and who the front office is. They really look at that stuff now. They think of it more like businessmen then just like, ‘Oh, New York City. I’d been fun to play there.’ Nobody thinks that way anymore. People really look at the stability and who runs the team. Like the Celtics, who couldn’t get a free agent for 30 years, they got Al Horford and Gordon Hayward in back-to-back years because they’re really well run and they have a really good coach. And that’s a game-changer.”
Why it won’t happen
Simmons touched on it there at the end … the Knicks are still owned by James Dolan. LeBron in particular surely recognize that the Knicks have the most dysfunctional ownership situation of any team in the NBA.
Last February during the Dolan – Charles Oakley madness, LeBron was quite vocal about his support of Oakley – even telling reporters out of the blue, “Charles Oakley for President.”
It would take quite a leap of faith for LeBron to join forces with Dolan, particularly when he’s still such good friends with Carmelo Anthony – who couldn’t wait to get of New York by the end.
The Knicks cap situation is still a huge problem as well. Even if the Knicks somehow lured LeBron to Manhattan … would a foundation of a 33-year-old LeBron - with a million miles on his odometer - and Porzingis be enough to compete with the Warriors for a title?
LeBron knows that if he goes to the Lakers, the Lakers will have enough cap room to sign multiple stars to place around him. That is why even though it’s the worst kept secret in sports, LeBron to the Lakers next summer still remains a phenomenal bet.