New York City, the biggest NBA market, millions of devoted fans, establishing a legacy on the league’s most historic franchise and playing inside Madison Square Garden may not be enough to lure any of the major players due to break in to free agency during the vaunted “Summer of 2010”.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are the three biggest names in that class, and all three are in the top-7 for scoring right now. While it’s been no secret that the master plan in New York has been to target at least Wade and James for 2010, there are a number of factors working against the Knicks. Could Donnie Walsh’s hopes and dreams go up in smoke? Very much so, and I’ve got five reasons why.
1. Salary Cap Of $51 Million In 2010
The top players in the league right now are making between $20 million and $23.3 million. If that’s the value of top tier talent in the NBA, nobody will be able to afford two of the top guys coming in to the fray in 2010. The league is hemorrhaging money at an NHL-level right now, and though some teams can afford the luxury tax, I’m not so sure New York can.
Currently their payroll is a bloated $86 million with the highest salary being billed by the Lakers at $91 million. Their biggest cap vampires in 2010 will be Eddy Curry (player option of $11.3 million) and Jared Jeffries (player option of $6.9 million) with about $9.1 million spread out amongst four key role players.
That leaves $27 million already committed to 2010, and just $24 million under the cap. Do you really think that the Knicks can roll out with a combination of LeBron and Bosh with a payroll of nearly $75 million devoted to just seven players? Only a lunatic like Spike Lee would put betting stock in that kind of roster.
2. The Knicks Are Terrible
The Knicks are just 3-10 SU this season and 5-8 ATS. In the past they’ve been a decent bet, but their inability to form any type of credible momentum has lost many NBA sports betting investors just one month in to the NBA season. Why would anybody sign up to play for a team that’s centered around the selfish Nate Robinson and a train wreck named Eddy Curry?
The worst part is that New York has schemed its entire future around LeBron or Wade coming to town in 2010, with no discernable backup tactics. None. Do you have any idea what would happen in New York if they didn’t land Wade or James? Riots. Lots of riots. And that’s it.
3. Coach D’Antoni Plays An Offense Heavy System
The only guy that would want to play on a team that doesn’t play defense is Dwyane Wade. Bosh and James are very strong defensive players, and King James might be the best defensive player in the league because of his size and strength. Why would playing on a team filled with role players and one other marquee player be attractive to these guys?
They’d be chasing the scoreboard against good teams no matter whose on the Knicks. Obviously, this isn’t an offense to Mike D’Antoni. It’s just that when you have one trick in your bag, it becomes a battle of “Coach vs. Star” and right now the coach is holding all the marbles.
4. Cleveland Is Already At The Cap In 2010
If the Cavs sign LeBron to an extension, which would bring him the most contract money available, that pushes them over the cap. That would leave the luxury tax room available to sign one more player and there’s no way King James would sign in Cleveland with this gang of idiots unless a guy like Chris Bosh was already on board.
Even then, are you telling me that a starting lineup of James, Bosh, Maurice Williams, Varejao and Delonte West is better than the Lakers? It’s a coin toss at best, and that’s not the type of championship security any of these young guns is looking for.
5. David Lee Is Not Under Contract In 2010
David Lee is the only reason anyone would want to sign in New York, but the Knicks are refusing to sign him to the $50-$60 million deal that he’s flat out worth. Averaging 17.9 points and 9.9 rebounds is going to bring him the big contract he wants, but it won’t come from New York unless James or Wade refuse to sign in the Big Apple.
Without Lee, the Knicks’ only dangling carrot is contract money, but even Wade and James are smart enough to realize that the league is so packed with talent that nobody can win a championship alone.
Bosh and Wade aren’t resigning in Miami, Toronto
The Raptors have a great franchise, completely loyal (and often borderline nutjob) fans and play in the basketball starved market of Toronto. Yet even with all that, the Raptors can’t get a serious playoff run together and Bosh has been there long enough to know that the front office in Toronto won’t be able to put the championship pieces together anytime soon.
Wade loves South Beach, and who can blame him? But the Heat have already won a championship and don’t have any players in the fold that give Wade certainty of his championship future. I like Mario Chalmers, I’m indifferent on Michael Beasley and I’m warm to Udonis Haslem, but Wade already did his best to lure Lamar Odom and Carlos Boozer to Miami…and it failed. He knows that he has to venture elsewhere to get a second ring.
So how exactly do I think the Summer of 2010 plays out? Read straight through before you start trying to punch me in the face by destroying your laptop.
Wade and Bosh Sign With Chicago Bulls
Why It Makes Sense:First of all, Wade is from Chicago. While hometown pride isn’t enough on its own, outside of Boston, L.A. and New York, Chicago is the next largest market the NBA has to offer. Credit Michael Jordan for that.
The other reason is named “Derrick Rose”. The combination of Wade-Rose would be the best backcourt the NBA has seen since Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas. The attraction of playing alongside one of the best point-guards in the league has to be tempting considering the insane workload Wade has had to manage in Miami.
Why Bosh Would Follow: If Chicago is smart enough to go straight after Bosh and Wade while LeBron is waffling offers, they’ll be in that $70 million range with the luxury tax being covered by their eventual playoff appearances. Bosh is almost the perfect frontcourt center piece to compliment Joakim Noah and/or Tyrus Thomas and he knows from his experience in Toronto that he can’t carry a team alone. He’s following Wade or James to wherever they end up, and signing Bosh in Chicago will be the first step to signing Wade to his hometown team.
Money Talk: The Bulls are at $37 million heading in to next season and assuming Bosh and Wade sign for $25 million a piece, that puts Chicago in the top-5 for payroll. Would it matter? Not if they’re making playoff revenue.
LeBron Goes To…
There are three possible destinations for LeBron. He can stay in Cleveland and play in his home state, matriculate to the abysmal Knicks which is the least attractive option…or go to L.A. and play with Kobe.
Why It Makes Sense: The Knicks stink. The Lakers are incredible, and with Kobe and LeBron paired together they’d be the most unstoppable force of nature since Scottie and M.J. Don’t forget that Kobe is getting older and needs the counterpart that Trevor Ariza was supposed to be. Not only are Kobe and Lebron good friends (re: Nike commercials, Olympics teams), they also know that the best chance they have of winning a championship is by playing together. Besides, in three years, the Lakers will be LeBron’s team.
How It Happens: A sign-and-trade involving Andrew Bynum who gives the Cavs the building block they need to rebuild in the post-LeBron era.
Who Makes It Happen:Phil Jackson who could get to 15 championships and past Bill Russell by placing one, well timed phone call to LeBron.
Either way it shakes down, the Summer of 2010 will be the most significant summer in NBA history and will stand to shape the NBA landscape for the next ten years. These guys are going somewhere. I’ve laid down my predictions. What’s yours?