Ian Thomsen was first to report LeBron’s delay of decision, and now Brian Windhorst says the King won’t make up his mind until after his Nike camp in Akron, which ends Wednesday night. And Tom Penn, the former Blazers assistant GM and current ESPN salary-cap guru, believes the Knicks are the team that makes the most sense to get James.
“My gut tells me that New York is the place for LeBron,” he told ESPN.com‘s Chris Sheridan. “I’ve felt that since last summer when it became clear he wasn’t going to do a contract extension. LeBron is a dynamic guy, a guy who wants to do more than just play basketball, and he’s so talented and has so many other interests. And in the next decade, he can achieve success in all those areas if he plays in New York. If you want to be king, you want to be in the castle, the Mecca of Basketball.”
But if that’s really the case, his delay of his decision certainly isn’t making it easy on the Knicks and especially their free agent forward David Lee.
Lee has met with the Bulls, Heat and Timberwolves, but knows Toronto could be his ultimate destination if Chris Bosh decides to go to New York. As Sheridan points out, the Raptors would likely agree to that because they would be trading Bosh into open cap space and, if they got Lee at an $11 million starting salary, they’d also gain a $5.5 million trade exception and Bosh would get a sixth year on his deal and 10.5 percent annual raises, increasing the value of his contract by $30 million.
The key to everything is James, of course, and the Knicks have told James he can bring along whichever big man he chooses, be it Amar’e Stoudemire, Bosh, Lee or Carlos Boozer. And remember, aside from Miami, New York is currently the only team with enough cap space to sign two max free agents outright without having to do a sign-and-trade, and they’d still have at least $1 million left over (the exact amount won’t be known until the salary cap is set July 7) to fill out the roster after spending the $33.14 million it’ll take to sign two max guys.
So if Lee’s offered a deal he can’t refuse while LeBron stalls, the Knicks could be in hot water. No LeBron. No Lee. No inside help. In short, it’s all about LeBron. But Sheridan did offer this little piece of encouragement for Knicks fans:
I spoke to Lee during the past season about his relationship with LeBron, and he described it as quite friendly. What if James committed to the Knicks and told then he wanted to play alongside Lee?