With coaching legend Phil Jackson set to join the New York Knicks as team president, it was only a matter of time before the inevitable avalanche of pie-in-the-sky stories about the "Lord of the 13 Rings" luring the best player on the planet, LeBron James, to Madison Square Garden.
The first such article to appear in the New York press came from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News, who quoted a James confidant as saying the Miami Heat forward might consider looking at the Knicks during the offseason:
"There’s no way LeBron would have gone to New York under the current climate. He had a falling-out with CAA (agency) and that was a problem as well. But with Phil there I think he will look at it."
For those unfamiliar with the dealings of Knicks owner James Dolan, CAA (Creative Artists Agency) is the group that holds an unrelenting grip on the franchise in one of the strangest symbiotic relationships in all of professional sports. It represents not only players Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, but also executives Mark Warkentien and Allan Houston.
Even current general manager Steve Mills is said to be close with CAA's notorious backroom power broker, William Wesley, according to Scott Cacciola of The New York Times.
Knicks fans are praying that the Jackson hiring will signal a marked decrease in the agency's influence, especially given the news that it is not on good terms with James.
But does that mean James will sign with the Knicks? Of course not.
Though he does have an early-termination clause built into his contract with Miami for the 2014 offseason, it would be virtually impossible to sign with the capped-out Knicks even if he wanted to.
James could re-up with Miami for one more year and then sign with New York in 2015 when the Knicks finally have cap space, but that move makes little sense in light of the organization's noted history of ineptitude.
Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports' ProBasketballTalk believes Jackson will have to settle for other big-time free agents down the road:
It’s unlikely LeBron leaves Miami at all, let alone for a team as dysfunctional as the Knicks have proven to be over the last several seasons. But other All-Stars will hit the free agent market, and Jackson will be expected to land one or more of them with the gravitas he brings to his new position.
Jackson was brought in because the Knicks are a broken franchise in need of thorough repair. They are not a marquee destination for players like James, who are looking to win championships from year one. But if Jackson does his job, they may actually become that kind of franchise in the future.
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