According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith (via Tommy Beer of Hoopsworld), LeBron has apparently made it known that he will "strongly consider" signing with the Knicks as a free agent in two years' time.
Smith's report comes on the heels of Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler writing that New York is prepared to let Carmelo Anthony build his own team in the summer of 2015. Something tells me he'd let LeBron be a part of his hand-picked roster.
Only he may not have a choice.
Per Hoopsworld, the Knicks will have as many as six players under contract in 2015. Two of those deals are player options (J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton), two are qualifying offers (Iman Shumpert and C.J. Leslie), one is a team option (Tim Hardaway Jr.) and the last is not guaranteed (Pablo Prigioni).
Those six pacts total roughly $18.2 million. Assuming 'Melo stays put at, let's say, an average of $20 million a season, the Knicks will have just over $38 million on the books leading into the summer of 2015, giving them more than enough cash to hand out a max contract.
Because New York could use some even more good news, the potential to have even more cap space is there. The Knicks have the right to part ways with four of the aforementioned six contracts free and clear. The two they don't (Felton and Smith) become expiring deals if they exercise their player options and are therefore easy to move.
It is then feasible that the Knicks enter 2015 with a blank slate (save for 'Melo) and the potential to sign two more superstars. You have to imagine they will hold on to Shumpert, but with James Dolan's Knicks, you never know.
Still, New York may be one year too late.
LeBron is expected to opt out of his contract with the Miami Heat after next season, at which point the Knicks will have as much as $90.6 million committed in payroll. Andrea Bargnani, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony account for almost $73 million of that figure.
Bargs, Stoudemire and 'Melo all have the option of terminating their contracts after this year, but only Anthony is expected to explore such an avenue.
Theoretically, then, if the Knicks wished to make a push for LeBron next summer, they'd have to trim approximately $50 million (maybe more) from the 90.6 they're projected to have.
Good luck with that.
There is only 2015, then, when the Knicks will be flush with cap space for the first time since 2010. Unlike 2010, however, LeBron doesn't seem on course to be a free agent.
The Chosen One could elect spend one more year in Miami, a scenario that isn't out of the question. But are we actually to believe he'll go through all that, just to play with his buddy 'Melo? When the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat themselves all have the flexibility to build around him next summer?
Dreaming big has its advantages, but the Knicks can't bank on signing LeBron. They can't even bank on his being available by the time they have the means to get him.
Best to move forward monitoring the situation while also knowing LeBron remains a longer-than-long shot to come to New York.
My sincerest of apologies to one Carmelo Anthony.
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