Ever since the end of the NBA Finals, everyone has been discussing the future of LeBron James. The New York Knicks shouldn’t even bother going after him.
The NBA Finals have concluded, and the Golden State Warriors are enjoying a third championship in four years. Yet, it seems that one story arc is dominating the media more then even the recent champions: Where will LeBron James go this offseason?
It’s pretty safe to assume that James will leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after making it to four straight NBA Finals with the team and only managing to win one. James has been linked to many teams this offseason, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Philadelphia 76ers.
In addition to those teams, the New York Knicks have been listed as a possible location for James to end up in. Winning a championship in New York would solidify his legacy.
Additionally, the recent hiring of coach David Fizdale establishes a connection to James, as the two worked together in Miami.
Whether or not you believe James is the G.O.A.T, it would still be a bad decision for the Knicks to chase after him in free agency. The obvious reason is that New York simply wouldn’t be able to afford him if Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn opt in on their contracts.
It would also risk the Knicks’ future and potentially set them back if the soon-to-be 34-year-old doesn’t deliver immediately.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, without James, are a borderline lottery team with their only legitimate star player being Kevin Love. The Cavaliers have made numerous moves to build a team around James for the past four seasons, and this year’s team is most likely the worst one.
While they managed to acquire some younger talent in the Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance Jr. trades, these players will not be able to lead the team to the playoffs after James leaves—at least not yet.
If the Knicks were to somehow sign James, they would need to be able to promise him that they will surround him with talented players to make a run at the championship.
This would require a total overhaul of the existing roster with the exception of Kristaps Porzingis, whose availability is questionable for next season, and possibly Tim Hardaway Jr., whose contract may cause some issues.
Other young assets and foundational pieces like Frank Ntilikina would have to become expendable to bring in players who James would want for his Finals run.
Would having LeBron James on the Knicks make them a playoff team? Yes. Can James take the Knicks to the NBA Finals? Maybe. Can James help the Knicks win the first championship since 1973? Probably not.
The Knicks are better off focusing on their current rebuild. Whether they follow the path of the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, or Philadelphia 76ers has yet to be seen, but the truth is that it will take some time before the Knicks return to the Finals.
What fans should hope for is a good player in the 2018 NBA Draft, a speedy recovery for Porzingis, and for coach Fizdale to create a culture that will take the New York Knicks to the promise land—the right way.