On Saturday evening, LeBron James announced that there will be no free-agent tour to explore the cities that covet his services. Instead, he will remain at home. In Akron, Ohio – possibly Cleveland – to entertain offers from several suitors.
Some self-proclaimed “experts” – including myself – believe the King will retain his throne in the only place he has ever called home – Cleveland, Ohio. All the while, arrogant New Yorkers are under the impression that the King needs New York and delusional Chicagoans think they offer LeBron James the best chance to win right now. (Which, as a side note, if Chicago was able to land both Bosh and LeBron, they’d be pretty sick for about a decade. But we’re not going to consider that option for now).
It is being reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that the latest plan calls for the New Jersey Net (most specifically Mikhail Prokhorov and James’ good friend, Jay-Z) to be the first to meet with James face-to-face on July 1. It is assumed that New York will meet with the young superstar shortly thereafter, followed by the Chicago Bulls. Those are really the only three outsiders that stand a chance to land the King, in my opinion. The Cavaliers can meet with him at any time but it is known that executives visited the King at his Bath Township home early last week.
As the week progresses, the Gospel is going to jump into a new series entitled I’m Going to Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse (a reference to the Godfather, for those of you who are a little behind). We’ll explore the pros and cons of suiting up for the Knicks, Nets, Bulls or Cavaliers and take a look at what each team has to offer our King.
Let’s start with the Knickerbockers…shall we?
I’m Going to Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse: New York Style
First up in this week’s series is the New York Knicks – the team with the least to offer LeBron James. Mike D’Antoni and the Knickerbockers finished with a miserable 29-53 mark last season and was 20-32 in what is quite possibly the worst division in the Eastern Conference (or maybe even the entire league). They field a roster headlined by David Lee and Danilo Gallinari – both terrific players in their own right but certainly not stars that, with LeBron, could make the Knicks a contending team.
However, the team does have cap space available to sign two big free agents this offseason. They could possibly lure James by signing Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire and resigning the services of Lee. Even so, the Knicks are probably not a top three team in the Eastern Conference.
Off the basketball floor, New York has plenty to offer the young king in the form of endorsement deals, bright lights and global recognition. It is home to the New York Yankees – LeBron’s favorite baseball team – and has a reputation for being one of the greatest cities in the United States.
All of that may work to deter James from the big city, though. If we have learned anything from the free agent saga of 2010, it is that LeBron James – the same kid who awarded himself the nickname “King James” – enjoys the spotlight and is happiest with all of the attention on him. Why else would he make an appearance on Larry King without announcing his chosen destination? Let’s be honest, that was an obvious ploy to let the world see LeBron James and his luxurious home. Why else would he prolong this nonsense when we all know that he has a pretty solid idea where he wants to play next season? It is because he enjoys all of the attention.
But New York is a Yankee town. And unless the young king can step in and immediately make the Knicks a championship caliber franchise, New York will continue to be a Yankee town. It will continue to be a town in which Derek Jeter and the Pinstripes come first, forcing LeBron to be an afterthought.
Let’s face it: If LeBron James was sincere in saying that all he cares about is winning championships – with an emphasis on its plurality – he won’t leave Cleveland to head for New York. He won’t turn his back on his home state to join a team with an absolutely horrible roster – even with the addition of LeBron James. They’re not ready to contend for at least a few more years and LeBron is not willing to spend any more of his prime in rebuilding mode. Besides that, D’Antoni’s run-and-gun offense mixed with his subpar defensive scheme (at best) does not fit the King’s mentality.
And, too bad for New Yorkers, there’s a certainly an offer LeBron will refuse.