I doubt very highly I’m the only one that’s noticed this. Let’s be realistic, with the NBA Playoffs kicking off this weekend, there are always a ton of side stories.
However, where LeBron James is playing next year seems to be taking on a life on its own, despite the fact that the only thing he’s likely thinking about at the moment is winning.
And it’s not even some fan site or blog that’s really taking this ball and running with it. It’s the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN!
The problem, really, began with the launch of ESPNNewYork.com, which the network touted for weeks. Complaints then swirled around when the site presented content regarding the long-stated theory that LeBron will make a move to the New York Knicks.
And then came a report from ESPNNews about the announcement that the salary cap would increase. The reporter’s reaction? That New York would have the space to add “another max contract to go with LeBron.”
Really? I wasn’t aware that James had already decided to sign with the Knicks.
First, let’s straighten some things out about the Knicks that have been pointed out over and over again. The franchise, even with two max-contract players, is still a good two or three years away from being anything other than a complete train wreck. James, along with fellow top-flight free agents Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, would have to accept that fact moving forward.
If you can’t see any of them doing that, then you’re probably not alone. Let’s also not forget that even if the Knicks do sign two max-contract guys, they’re not exactly going to be surrounded by much of a supporting cast. David Lee will likely not be re-signed, Eddy Curry’s health issues are concerning, and you’re not winning anything with Chris Duhon as your starting point guard.
Beyond the depth issues, The Knicks have another problem, that of head coach Mike D’Antoni. His coaching philosophy of high-energy offense and virtually no defense, something he crafted in Phoenix but hasn’t had the manpower to pull off in New York, works to the opposite of the defensive-minded play that James has prided himself on over the past couple years. For LeBron to consider the Knicks, D’Antoni would, in all likelihood, have to be replaced.
For their part, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made every effort to provide James with the personnel and the environment that would allow him to thrive. Can the Knicks front office truly believe they can do what the Cavs have done in order to keep LeBron happy? I doubt it.
So any speculation from anyone from ESPN that LeBron will make the move to Madison Square Garden is one of those pie-in-the-sky dreams. Money isn’t everything. In the situation, it’s about a winning formula.
From that standpoint, what the Knicks have in place for 2010-11 is the recipe for napalm. And that’s not a good thing.