LeBron James: The Future King of the Big Apple?
LeBron in New York. It's a done-deal right. Not even close. Knicks fans I'm sorry to burst your dreams.
Despite LeBron having professed his love for all things in New York—producing a special edition Yankee shoes, wearing a New York Yankees hat and some big apple shoes—the ink hasn’t struck the contract.
LeBron definitely has a fascination for big things. However, that doesn't translate much in terms of what LeBron really wants—many small rings.
It is almost certain that LeBron will test free agency in 2010—trying to find the best place to win championships. It is true that LeBron has mentioned his desire to reach billionaire status.
However, what James most desires are championships. And not just one. He wants multiple rings.
Already there has been a major salary-dumping, cap-freeing effort by many teams to sign one of the marquee 2010 free agents. A few like Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, or Amare Stoudemire have already proved their value to their respective franchises.
Of course the biggest prize is LeBron. New York fans guarantee his signing, and Knicks fan Tony Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption on a few occasions speaks of "future Knicks player" Lebron James.
I'm hear to tell you this might not be the best franchise for LeBron.
Sure he'll get a raise in his endorsements by playing in one the largest NBA market and most loyal fan bases. Trust me I have seen Knicks fans at Madison Square Garden during some of their most miserable seasons.
However, wearing No. 23 as the most marketable face of the NBA, LeBron clearly desires to cement his status as one of the best to play the game.
And many will tell you that the number of championships often helps solidify a superstar's place in the sports revered history.
Looking at the financial landscape of the NBA along with ownerships, the Knicks are a franchise to consider along with a host of others.
1. New York Knicks
Advantages: Ownership that is willing to spend money. I honestly don't remember a season when the Knicks were under the luxury tax threshold. While the ownership has not put in place the best leadership, not many can criticize his lack of spending. Or spending badly.
Disadvantages: They have not put a credible roster together and their running short of time. Clearing-cap space won't be enough to sign LeBron. He expects a decent roster and the Knicks clearly are lacking.
While the Knicks could sign two superstars, how many are willing to play second fiddle. I wouldn’t bet my money on that. All hopes are pinned on Italian phenom Danilo Gallinari and the 2009 NBA Draft pick.
2. Detroit Pistons
Advantages: A GM Joe Dumars, who has won a championship and drafted well most of the time. The Pistons had a down year, but a few bright spots include Rodney Stuckey or Will Bynum. The team itself struggled, but one could blame that on chemistry issues with Allen Iverson, or a rookie coach.
Disadvantages: Would LeBron be willing to betray Cavaliers fans and head north to a rival? Highly doubtful. Also the city of Detroit is hurting economically. It'll be tough for the Pistons to sign LeBron considering the economic viability of the city for the near future is very grim.
3. Chicago Bulls
Advantages: A young core of talent including Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Tyrus Thomas. The talent of this team is astonishing and the team itself is very young. The Bulls have drafted well and built for the future.
They already made the playoffs and pushed the defending champion Celtics to seven games. Not to mention the Celtics put up a strong fight against eventual Eastern Conference Champion Orlando Magic.
Disadvantages: "The Jordan Shadow"—yes, it would be very difficult to play in this city with a fan base who has not forgotten their hero from the past.
Every move LeBron would make would be instantly compared to Michael Jordan. LeBron would have to get a new jersey number (although that isn't much of a disadvantage).
4. Dallas Mavericks
Advantages: A great owner, Mark Cuban, while he can be intrusive. He is willing to spend money to field a very good team. They have a team that could win the year LeBron signs. The city is huge and LeBron is a huge Cowboys’ fan, apparently.
Disadvantages: The team isn't built for the future. The major players will be past their prime and the team hasn't built a credible young core like the Bulls. LeBron wants to win multiple championships and the Western Conference is loaded.
5. New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets
Advantages: Brooklyn is the city in New York, which can attract a large following, particularly if the Knicks continue to live in the land of the lottery. Their starting to draft well. They acquired Devin Harris—he is a young All-Star caliber-point guard. Brooke Lopez had a fine rookie season.
Disadvantages: The Nets are having major issues moving to Brooklyn. Can they stabilize their location by 2010? That's a major question. The New York location however can be appealing, if the Knicks roster has not improved to the satisfaction of LeBron.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
Advantages: LeBron can get the best contract because the Cavaliers own his Bird Rights. The team has been a playoff contender for many years and missing only one or two pieces to push them over the top. The owner is willing to exceed the luxury tax to build a contending team. The Cavs are close to his hometown.
Disadvantages: LeBron has been patient for six years searching for a championship contending team. He has seen the instant mix (Boston Celtics) and the Kobe pressure cooker (Los Angeles Lakers).
LeBron will soon be a 25-year-old player. He would already have resigned, if he felt Cleveland is building a championship contender.
While it is not certain where LeBron will land in 2010, a laughable suggestion of Europe might still be an offer. Especially, with the King's appetite for gold.
However, Knicks fans, you have competition for the face of the NBA. He has professed his love for New York, however, hasn't shown any for the Knicks.
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