New York is in a tough spot when it comes to their contract situations. LeBron James is obviously a maximum contract player, and that should come as no surprise to anybody. For the time being, a maximum contract for LeBron signed through free agency would come at around $35 million dollars for the 2018-19 season. This is worth every penny, but can the Knicks feasibly make that happen?
James is currently on a deal signed in 2016, in which he would make $100 million over three seasons with a player option in the third year, next year. It is also just under $36 million in 2018-19. Theoretically, LeBron could accept the player option and force a trade.
However, the Knicks don’t have significant assets outside of Kristaps, Ntilikina, and their pick this year that would facilitate a trade. But what’s the point of trading your assets to get LeBron if there won’t be anyone for him to roll with once he’s yours? The Knicks would also need to dump salary in order to sign LeBron. Their contracts that need to be shed are horrendous.
Joakim Noah is not with the team, but still will make $18.53 million next season. Enes Kanter makes $18.6 million. Tim Hardaway Jr. makes $17.3 million. That right there is $54.4 million given to two players that don’t make positive impacts in Noah and Kanter and a player that has a hard time staying on the court and playing well in Hardaway Jr. These contracts are very difficult to ship to a new team, especially Cleveland.
Cleveland is in a position similar to the Knicks, where players are extremely overpaid for their production. They are not going to take back any of those contracts without sweeteners. But like we already know, why trade the very pieces that would make LeBron want to come to NY in the first place?
Through free agency, LeBron could straight-up sign with New York, but that means a different team is taking on those awful contracts in a cap space environment that is very tight in 2018. There is no functional path of making the Knicks desirable and affordable at the same time for the success LeBron would require next season.
Due to a roster not ready to win, and several contracts that need talent attached to get rid of them, LeBron will quickly table the offer to play with the Knicks. In short, The Knicks are a fun Cinderella candidate to get the King this summer, but in reality, there is no shot that LeBron will sign in the Garden in NY.