NBA Free Agency: LeBron James' Suitors

Jaime IrvineCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks over the defense during the game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Arena on February 21, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Salary cap expert extraordinaire Larry Coon wrote a piece in the New York Times regarding LeBron James and who could be his eventual suitors for his services.

In specifics, Coon talks about the likelihood King James ends up in New York, and if it is a better fit for him over his hometown and current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Coon does a good job of outlining the hypothetical situations for both Cleveland and NYC destinations, along with others in part II , especially from the salary standpoint, but I believe he falls short on his assessment with James and the Knicks.

Coon states,

But does a superstar really need to be in a major market? James, Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade seem to be doing just fine in Cleveland, Orlando, and Miami, respectively.

Can you imagine James getting more media attention if he’s in New York or Los Angeles? Me neither. If you’re a star, you need to be in a big market. If you’re a superstar, they come to you.

I agree with his statement to a certain extent. Yes, James, Howard and Wade are doing fine, but put them in a major market and their marketing will explode.

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Let’s think about it for a second. Right now, LeBron is playing for a team in Cleveland that has a population of roughly 480,000 and a metro population of 2.2 million.

Now, NYC has an estimated population of approximately 8 million and a greater metropolitan population of over 22 million.

Basically every single person in Cleveland is a die hard King James fan, and right now in New York, there are mostly casual fans.

But, if LeBron comes to the Knicks, you now have die hard New York fans that has the potential to be equivalent of 22 million people, or 10 times the greater metro population of Cleveland, and not to mention all of the New York transplants all over the country and world.

That is a huge factor for Nike and other businesses looking to sponsor James, and that is one of the main reasons why the Knicks, even though they haven’t made the playoffs since 2000-01 season, still make money every year.

When discussing the potential for the New York Knicks roster with James, Coon fails to mention the impact of quality veterans willing to play for New York and James for the minimum money, in return for a chance at a title.

Key veteran acquistions on the cheap have always been an integral part of NBA championship teams, and I think the same could occur with the Knicks. One star veteran may be Tracy McGrady who recently said he is willing to take less money to stay with the Knicks .

Along with signing veterans at the minimum, Donnie Walsh and the Knicks have Eddy Curry’s expiring contract of over $11M. As we saw at the trade deadline, and see now with majority of NBA trades, an expiring contract is the golden ticket to making moves.

The Knicks can move his contract prior (or during) to the 2010-11 season for pieces to fit around James.

Having said all that, are the Knicks still the best suitor for LeBron? I am not sure. Coon definitely provides, from what I have seen, the best analytical assessment on who could potential be King James’s suitor and a great read for any NBA fan.

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