Roland Lazenby writes at HoopsHype that LeBron James wants to be a Laker. Yep. Sam Smith has speculated about this scenario before but Lazenby has sources to add to Smith’s speculation:
The greatest NBA free agent of all time, LeBron James, is quietly making overtures to the Los Angeles Lakers.He wants to play for them. And James is not all that concerned whether Kobe Bryant is part of the equation. Bryant, of course, has yet to sign a contract extension with L.A. and could wind up a free-agent himself, albeit one with high mileage.
But the overtures have been made. LeBron wants to wear the purple and gold.
And if you think about it, it makes sense. People often point to LeBron’s affinity for the Yankees as a sign that LeBron wants to come to Broadway this summer but his love for the Bombers may mean something else altogether. Consider that he also loves the Cowboys, not the Giants or the Jets. So he loves “America’s” teams. The frontrunner, the proud franchise with the history and the glory. So if you think of the Yankees in baseball, and the Cowboys in football, you think about the Montreal Canadiens in Hockey (23 Stanley Cups – I had to look that up) who do you think about in basketball? As much as it pains me to say it, it’s not the Knicks. It’s the Lakers (or Celtics). And maybe rather than building a new legacy, LeBron wants to add to the most storied one.
Do the Lakers have the juice to land LeBron? Of course. In a sign and trade the Lakers can easily make the best offer of some combination Pau Gasol or Bynum with Artest or Odom and probably some draft picks. If LeBron really wants to go there and the Lakers want him (why wouldn’t they), then game over folks.
If LeBron does change teams this summer, it’ll sting if he doesn’t go to the Knicks, especially after what fans have been through these past two years. I personally never hung my hat on a LeBron-or-nothing philosophy, but it’ll sting.
The only sliver of light for Knicks’ fans is this bit from Lazeby’s article:
Mainly, he wants to wear a championship ring, which means he wants to play for Lakers coach Phil Jackson.“LeBron wants to win. He’s a smart guy,” explains one of my best inside sources, a close Jackson associate. “And Phil loves LeBron, absolutely LOVES him.”
There are many, many complicating factors to such a scenario, not the least of which is the fact that it’s way far from certain that Jackson will even be the coach of the Lakers next year.
“The Lakers have not made Phil an offer,” the Jackson source points out. However, rest assured of this, Jackson’s close associate maintained. “Phil will coach somewhere next year.”
Jackson wouldn’t dare take off next year if he’s not coaching the Lakers because he believes the following year will bring a lock-out, the source says. Jackson craves the chance to win another title before the NBA owners lock out the players in 2011-2012 to force a new contract.
“The whole league is under review,” the source points out. “Franchise values are falling, so the owners feel they must force a new labor agreement.”
The lock-out will bring a lost season, and the 64-year-old Jackson doesn’t want to miss two campaigns. So Jackson could wind up coaching Bron with another team next year, such as the New York Knickerbockers.
Would the Knicks cast aside Mike D’Antoni after these two brutal years? Donnie Walsh promised him the a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel. It’ll be the definition of cold-hearted to hand him his walking papers at a time when he was to start collecting on his Faustian bargain. If I’m the Knicks, I’m not sure I get seduced by the possibility of LeBron and Phil Jackson if it means casting away D’Antoni, and it’s not because I think D’Antoni is a better coach than Phil or because I don’t like LeBron or because I don’t want to win a title. But it’s been 37 years since the Knicks won a title and I feel such a cold-hearted move could seal the Knicks into place at the top of the pantheon of sports curses as a result of massive Karmic damnation. Surely, that’s something that Phil Jackson can understand.