Teams (and media) that have begun to count the days until LeBron James becomes a free agent are wasting their time (unless they are the Cleveland Cavaliers). If you have a countdown looking toward 2010 when LeBron can make a decision to leave the Cavaliers, start counting something else. If you are a member of the media in New York or other high-profile cities believing that James needs your city to become a global star, start believing in something else. If you are the owner of a team who has been trading away or acquiring players based on freeing money to offer LeBron, start making other deals.
Last time we checked the NBA standings, LeBron and the Cavs were heading toward the playoffs with one of the best records in the league while the New York Knicks, among the top pre-suitors for LeBron's 2010 admiration, were improved over last season but still among the bottom third in the NBA. So LeBron is on track to make his second visit to the NBA finals with the Cavaliers while the Knicks were a decade removed from such glory. Which means a major rebuilding is needed for the Knicks to even sniff the air that LeBron has been breathing in Cleveland, which means that many of the players on the roster this season will be gone and locker space will be cleared out for the hopeful arrival of James and at least one other marquee player to start anew in 2010-11.
Also, last time we checked, LeBron was doing quite well with endorsements and national (and an ever-expanding global) presense. No one on a New York team even approaches his level of marketing, including the likes of Derek Jeter, Eli Manning and A-Rod. Same with Dwayne Wade, the marquee player with the Miami Heat whose contract also expires in 2010 (although no one appears to be inclined to count down the days until that happens). So James needs to be within walking distance of Madison Avenue because ...? Of course, anything can happen, including stories starting to appear that LeBron has indicated to Cavaliers' management that he would like to talk this season about extending his current contract. Perhaps James actually is encouraging thepublic countdown so that Cleveland management knows exactly how much time it has to find another vault to open to reward their superstar.
(Posted Jan. 13, 2009)