Knicks Named a “Surprise” Landing Spot for Rumored NBA Superstar

The NBA expects to see a lot of movement from free agency and trades in the offseason, but there is one surprise scenario getting vastly overlooked.
Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

While the 2023-24 NBA season still has to crown its ultimate champion in the Finals over the next couple of weeks, all eyes will soon be fixed on the offseason and the vast number of free agent or trade moves that could be made for a handful of top tier players this summer. 

Across the league, several high-profile names are set to hit the open market, seeking championship-caliber homes or new places to collect their last dibs at a big payday. Some of them have options in their contract that they could pick up to remain with their current franchise or afford their suitor a cheaper way to facilitate a deal that helps build a title-bound unit. 

Among them is LeBron James, the 39-year-old, four-time NBA champion and four-time MVP who has been the subject of many rumors that he may elect to opt out of his $50 million player option with the Lakers for the 2024-25 season. James joined the Lakers in 2018 with the hopes of adding more titles to the storied franchise alongside Anthony Davis but has seemingly grown frustrated amid just one strong season and bubble championship in the shortened 2020 season. 

There is also the growing belief that James’s decision could hinge on the outcome of his son Bronny James in June’s NBA Draft, with the possibility that the team that selects him could lure his father for one last hooray in a new city. That approach wouldn’t give the senior James a lot of time to make a decision on his future in the sport, as the draft is just two days prior to the league’s June 29 deadline for player option decisions.

No matter how it pans out, there are a few teams that have already been labeled as ideal destinations and have their radars focused on the potential LeBron James sweepstakes in the coming weeks. Yet, one outlet believes there is another team flying under the radar that would make perfect sense for the veteran superstar on the sunset of his illustrious career and that is the New York Knicks.

In an article written by Greg Swartz on May 31st, Bleacher Report labeled the Knicks as a “surprise landing spot” for James should he choose to seek greener pastures this upcoming summer. Of course, the scenario would first require the NBA’s all-time scoring leader opt into his $51.4 million option before being shipped to New York for a suitable package in return, but it’s one the Knicks could easily manage if Los Angeles was interested. 

Knicks Named Potential Landing Spot for LeBron James

Per the article, the Knicks could match James’s player option by sending a package to the Lakers including Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Miles McBride whose cap hits combined surpass the $51 million mark. Then, the two sides could sort an exchange of draft selections for which the Knicks have seven of their own that are unprotected and as many as six more in the next two year’s drafts.

Randle figures to be a player involved in almost any trade scenario that Leon Rose explores this summer, given his desire for a massive extension to his contract set to expire in 2026. The Knicks may not come to an agreement with Randle on that type of pact before other teams come knocking, making James a good option to step in and replace the same 25 points and 10 rebounds Randle has averaged in the Big Apple. 

Bogdanovic is not a free agent until 2025, but his $19 million cap hit for 2024 is non-guaranteed and the Knicks would have to elect to guarantee it for it to count as outgoing salary in a potential trade, per the NBA’s current CBA. McBride is under team control until 2027 and is bound to garner interest after an impressive season growing on both ends of the court in big minutes for Tom Thibodeau. 

At the end of his 20th season in the league, James averaged 25.7 points per game on 54% shooting from the field which was the fourth-highest percentage of his career. He also shot his best 41% from beyond the arc in 71 games this past fall and ranked in the top 32 players in rebounds (7.3) and assists (8.3), proving the multifaceted player he could still serve any franchise at the ripe age of 39 years old. 

A lot would have to be ironed out for this surprise scenario to play out with James taking his talents to Madison Square Garden nearly a decade and a half after he rejected New York for South Beach in 2010. Most importantly, the Lakers would have to be convinced to send their biggest asset to their historic rival on the East Coast who seems to have grown in favor of the positive direction the Knicks have headed in the past two seasons. 

The Knicks would also have to decide if they are comfortable hedging their future for what could be a one-year rental from James, who could retire at the conclusion of his 22nd season, title or not. That might be a tough decision to ponder, but there is no doubt the move would partner him with a solid core headlined by Jalen Brunson and present the opportunity to cement his legacy by helping a starving franchise win its first title in over 50 long years. 

For now, all Knicks fans can do is sit back and dream about this surprise scenario falling into place. If there’s one thing they’ve learned from Leon Rose thus far, it’s that he does a good job at keeping his cards close to his chest and improving the team in a surprise fashion. 

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