Because an SI Swimsuit editor has cordially invited you to the Swimsuit party if you join the Knicks tonight. Yep. You’d have a chance to mingle with all the SI Lovelies. Quite the offer, if you ask me. Here’s a little sumthin, sumthin to think about while you continue mulling your big decision.
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Wall Street was bullish today … and not for Chicago.
Thanks to all the LeBron-New York speculation, shares Madison Square Garden Inc., the owners of the Knicks, jumped $1.30, or 6.4 percent, to close at $21.57 Wednesday, adding 3 cents in extended trading. Volume was up dramatically at 1.7 million trades, more than five times the daily average of 311,000.
James’ potential arrival in New York would boost the value of the franchise by “hundreds of millions of dollars,” Gabelli & Co. analyst Christopher Marangi told the AP.
If LeBron, who will announce his decision Thursday on ESPN, signs with the Knicks, the team could see about 10 percent more revenue, while the MSG network could get 10 percent more advertising revenue, he said.
“Would landing LeBron add to the economic value of the enterprise? The answer to that is unequivocally yes,” he said. “The second question is what are the Knicks’ chances of actually getting him? The market is saying it thinks better of the chances today than it did yesterday or before the weekend.”
Feuling the speculation of LeBron going to New York was Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh‘s announcements Wednesday that they would play for the Miami Heat. Marangi said those decisions instantly made Chicago (who agreed to terms of a five-year, $80 million with free agent power forward Carlos Boozer on Wedesday, too) a less-attractive option for James while Miami’s chances of winning the NBA Finals would go up dramatically with all three stars on the team.
But the Knicks entered the free agency shopping spree with the most salary cap room in the league with $34.1 million – enough for two players earning the maximum salary. After the team landed Amar’e Stoudemire for $100 over five years, it still had $17 million to spend on James. [The AP]
Brian Cashman knows a few things about making free agent deals. He knows a lot about recruiting, even more about winning (five World Series rings) and perhaps the most about juggling massive contracts and egos.
So when the Yankees GM says stuff like this after hearing that the Knicks landed Amar’e Stoudemire, it’s hard to just ignore it:
“LeBron James is going to be a Knick. I’m convinced of it. New York is the place that will allow LeBron to be the player and person he wants to be, and it’s all coming together. Just listen, LeBron James will be a Knick.”
Cashman admitted to ESPN.com‘s Ian O’Connor this was his gut instinct, but his instinct also convinced him to shell out nearly $424 million in a single offseason to get CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira to lead the Yanks to their 27th World Series title.
“In free agency, it’s not about cutting the best deal, it’s about securing the player,” Cashman said. “I gave CC an extra year and an out after three years because we needed him. We couldn’t afford to lose him. He was the most vital piece to our entire game plan in free agency.
“You don’t get a gold star for saving money on a deal; your goal is to win championships. You can’t enter the free-agent market as a buyer hoping to beat the other teams by one dollar. You can’t mess around and lose the player.” [ESPN.com]
Could LeBron’s delay be working in New York’s favor? Quite possibly. Sources to Hoopsworld.com’s Alex Kennedy claim James’ business advisors Maverick Carter and Randy Mims could be traveling to New York on Wednesday, and LeBron may be joining them.
Carter and Mims have reportedly been grilling the Knicks’ for details on their salary cap and free-agent plans over the past few days, and there are rumblings about a massive Knicks press conference later this week – and not just for Stoudemire, who will officially sign his five-year deal on Thursday. “Something bigger may be happening in the Big Apple,” wrote Kennedy.
Over the last few days, the Knicks have been viewed as longshots to land LeBron, but some believe their second meeting with LeBron’s camp late Saturday, and the deal to bring on All-Star forward Stoudemire — they’re also set to meet with point guard Raymond Felton — have made the Knicks’ very attractive to The King. [Hoopsworld]
LeBron can have his maximum contract. But some New York businesses who just so happen to share a name with The Chosen One, are hoping he comes to the Big Apple so they, too, can rake it in.
“Everyone who has that name, one way or another, they’ll benefit,” Roger M. Lebron, owner of Lebron Auto Body in Ridgewood, Queens, told the New York Post. “Maybe he’ll come down to check us out — ‘Oh, they got my name on their business!’” If he does, Roger said he’d take good care of James’ Benz, Ferrari, Hummer or Rolls-Royce. Bargain.
Omar Lebron, the manager of Lebron Restaurant Equipment warehouse in Inwood, is also eager to rake in the big bucks. “People can own a Lebron in the kitchen. We have soaps with the Lebron label, so they might sell even more now,” he said.
And who wouldn’t want a Lebron kitchen? The Lebron family, who also run a store in the Bronx, plans to see Lebron T-shirts.
Of course, not everyone is hopeful The King can bring their business extra dough. When asked about James, a woman at Lebron Real Estate in Borough Park, Brooklyn, said, “Who?” and hung up. [New York Post]
The Knicks snuck in one last meeting to try to woo the King. According to the New York Daily News’ Frank Isola, Madison Square Garden president Scott O’Neil and senior VP of Basketball Operations Glen Grunwald held a brief, secret meeting with James’ reps in Cleveland late Saturday. LeBron wasn’t in attendance, but his business manager, Maverick Carter, and agent, Leon Rose, met with the two Knicks execs on the day James wrapped up his free-agent meetings with the Cavs and Bulls.
The timing of the meeting is a little bizarre given that Amar’e Stoudemire landed in New York on Saturday to meet with the Knicks’ brass and to likely accept the team’s $100 million offer. But this was Donnie Walsh’s last-ditch effort to show LeBron how much the team is committed to bringing top-tier talent to play alongside him.
The sense is still, though, The Chosen One will re-sign with the Cavs and, one Knicks source even told Isola on Thursday that it’s “very doubtful” New York will get the King. [NY Daily News]
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?
After Day 1 of free agency, it appears LeBron favors the Nets over the Knicks. At least, that’s what Brian Windhorst says.
“Here’s what I hear from yesterday: LeBron interested in Nets pitch but not so much NY. NY trying at moment to secure Amare’ to help cause,” Windhorst tweeted Friday morning.
The King met with Jay-Z and the Nets for 90 minutes, and then the New York brass for nearly three hours on Thursday in Cleveland. Though both teams came away optimistic, New Jersey has a little more going for it in the big race: friend Jay-Z, a billionaire owner, cap space and a roster to build around.
The Knicks, too, have cap space (enough for two max players), the Big Apple and a $1 billion plan. But they lack a core group and may have already lost out on getting Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh or another max player. Even if they do snag Amar’e Stoudemire, it may not be enough to lure the King. [Brian Windhorst]
The Knicks’ meeting with The King on Thursday included much more than a max $16.5 million contract. Like $84 million more.
Like their rivals across the Hudson, they told LeBron he could become a billionaire in New York. And to make their case, they commissioned a study from marketing consultant Interbrand to show The Chosen One just how he could earn nearly $1 billion over his lifetime in salary and endorsement deals in New York, and, if he finishes his career with the Knicks, maybe even up to $2 billion.
While the report fails to detail its methodology, it claims there’s a 48.6 percent chance LeBron would become a billionaire in New York, compared to 1.3 percent in Cleveland, 1 percent in Chicago and 0 percent in Miami. Forbes.com’s Steve Bertoni got his hands on this fancy shmancy Powerpoint presentation. Take a peak.