The New York Daily News is reporting that LeBron James has reached out to New York Knicks center Eddy Curry to work out during the offseason, according to a source.
If true, the Daily News postulated that Curry’s involvement could end up hurting the Knicks’ chances of landing LeBron in free agency, as “the veteran center has had a famous falling-out with head coach Mike D’Antoni, which began as far back as D’Antoni’s first practice with the Knicks.”
Would Curry’s hard feelings toward D’Antoni actually affect LeBron’s free agency decision?
Here’s thinking no. And here’s why.
It’s not like D’Antoni or his coaching style would be a stranger to LeBron—after all, D’Antoni served as an assistant to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski during the 2008 Olympics. Why would Curry’s opinion suddenly change LeBron’s relationship with D’Antoni?
Back in 2008, LeBron had nothing but praise for D’Antoni heading into the Olympics:
"It's been great working with him," James said. "He's one of the best coaches we have in the league. He's an offensive mastermind. If you like to score the basketball, he can make decent players a lot better because of his scheme. He's unbelievable on the offensive end."
D’Antoni, inventor of the infamous Seven-Seconds-or-Less offense, was hired by the Knicks back in 2008 largely due to his good-natured relationship with superstar Olympians who would become free agents in the summer of 2010.
And while LeBron may have caused N.Y. fans heart palpitations by emphasizing the importance of defense on his teams (not exactly D’Antoni’s strong suit), D’Antoni can point to two recent trips to the Western Conference Finals as proof that his offense-on-amphetamines approach has led to success.
D'Antoni's also pleased with the Suns' fortuitous timing, as he believes the Suns' Western Conference Finals berth only helps him out.
"It's Alvin's way, too, but what it does is gives me more confidence that you can win that way," D'Antoni said. "I'm not gloating or taking credit because Alvin's done a great job, but I'm happy for them and it makes me feel good about the system."
The New York Post emphasized D’Antoni’s impact on free agency over the weekend (unedited):
Though D'Antoni has been knocked for the Knicks' poor defensive play these past two seasons, nobody can knock the influence he will have on July 1. James, who played for D'Antoni on the U.S. Olympic team, is known to love his speedball philosophy. And that's noteworthy at this juncture because James, according to Cleveland sources, soured on coach Mike Brown's offensive system he deemed too slow and unimaginative.
If the Post's sources are correct and LeBron truly did sour on Mike Brown's iso-heavy offense, chances are Curry's opinions of D'Antoni won't sway LeBron one way or the other. If LeBron doesn't recognize that Curry's an overweight malcontent who's upset that D'Antoni wouldn't put him back into the rotation, then he's far less savvy than he presents himself.
Instead, LeBron's reaching out to Curry suggests two things to me: One, he's putting in his due diligence testing out his potential new teammates (as his phone call to Derrick Rose over the weekend suggests), and two, he's legitimately considering New York as an option and wants to see if he can salvage any part of Curry's playing career.
Before Curry blew up to 300 pounds and only played 10 games in the past two seasons, remember, he showed some signs of promise for New York in the middle part of the past decade. His career averages of 13.3 points and 5.3 rebounds certainly don't do much to inspire, but in Curry's defense, he only averaged 25.4 minutes per game for his career.
Extrapolate his career stats to 36 minutes/per game, and Curry would average 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game—not too shabby for a guy who wouldn't be more than a third or fourth option on the Knicks.
LeBron and Curry happen to share the same agent, Leon Rose, and both players have ties to William Wesley, the NBA's best behind-the-scenes powerbroker. (Wesley was placed in control of Curry's workouts last summer, to get him back into game shape.) Is it that far-fetched to assume that LeBron's examining all facets of any team he's considering joining?
The Knicks' best shot at landing LeBron is selling him on a two-year plan—in essence, assuring him that the Knicks can still make a splash in next year's free agency with Curry's $12 million coming off the books.
But who can blame LeBron for wanting to see if there's any life left in Curry's career? Why not check out what your prospective team actually has to offer and whether or not you can get certain players to overachieve? What if LeBron works out with Curry and sees a player N.Y. hasn't seen for years?
It's not like Curry had an All-World point guard feeding him the ball consistently, even in his best years in New York. Curry's best seasons came with Stephon Marbury running the point, but Marbury's eccentricities turned out to be even more overpowering than his immense talents.
I'm not saying Curry's going to turn into Dwight Howard overnight here...but do the Knicks need him to? If they can get anything out of Curry, who will eat up $12 million in cap space this year whether the Knicks like it or not, that has to be seen only as a bonus for New York.
What happens if LeBron's the one to facilitate such a change during these workouts?
LeBron working out with Curry shouldn't be seen as a negative for New York, regardless of how much the big man badmouths D'Antoni during the workout.
LeBron working out with the Knicks' most unmovable asset only bodes well for N.Y. as the LeBron free agency soap opera carries on.