Knicks' unique position doesn't mean front office should trade for megastar

When will it end?
New York Knicks
New York Knicks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

It's never going to end. Okay, it will end, but not until the offseason, which feels like a world away, at least for teams like the New York Knicks. The 2024 playoffs will start in a month and a half, but a lot will happen between now and then.

Once the dust from the 2023-24 season settles, the Knicks will start to seriously evaluate their options moving forward. The front office has stockpiled draft picks and could go after a star. Which star could that be? It all depends on how the rest of the season plays out. Maybe it'll be Donovan Mitchell — or Luka Doncic, although that still feels like a stretch.

There's one superstar that all eyes will be on this summer. He has a player option that he could opt out of to become a free agent. He could also opt into it for a sign-and-trade. By this point, you should have guessed that the player is LeBron James. He's said he wants to stay with the Lakers, but it's the NBA, and anything can happen.

Knicks' financial flexibility doesn't mean they should consider LeBron James trade

ESPN insiders Bobby Marks and Dave McMenamin wrote a piece exploring LeBron's future options in LA and elsewhere. The maximum deal he could sign with a team other than the Lakers is three years, $157 million. If he stayed in LA, the max he could sign is three years, $162 million. Those are steep prices for a player who will be 40 in December, but LeBron is quite literally built differently.

The Warriors were a team that Marks and McMenamin brought up, as Golden State reached out about a LeBron trade before the deadline. They noted that a LeBron-Klay Thompson sign-and-trade would be complicated for both sides, which brought them to the Knicks.

"The Knicks, however, have the financial flexibility below both aprons to trade for James without losing Jalen Brunson and OG Anunoby.

New York has five players (Julius Randle, Josh Hart, Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanovic and Donte DiVincenzo) earning a salary between $11.5 and $30.3 million. They also have up to eight tradable first-rounders to include in a deal."

ESPN's Marks and McMenamin

Look, New York's front office has created that flexibility for a reason. It isn't 2010 anymore. While LeBron is still playing at a high level, how much longer will he be able to do so? Trading Randle, Hart, Robinson, Bogdanovic, or DiVincenzo for LeBron, along with first-round picks, would set the Knicks back.

It's been a process for New York to get where it is now. It's required patience. The Knicks would toss their long-term goals to the side if they went all-in on LeBron. Their championship window would be short, and the depth they sacrificed to get LeBron could come back to haunt them.

LeBron has until June 29 to decide on his option, meaning there are about three and a half months left of speculation. Sure, it'd be cool for him to end his storied career in New York, but that dream is long gone.

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