Latest Knicks-LeBron James belief should relieve New York (and Lakers) fans

New York's front office knows better.
New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James
New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James / Al Bello/GettyImages

If LeBron James wants to make the move to the New York Knicks 14 years later than expected, don't bank on it happening. The Knicks towel he wore after the Lakers beat them on Feb. 3 wasn't enough for New York to inquire about the 39-year-old before the deadline. Nor was it enough for LA to make a trade before the deadline.

James has a $51.4 million player option for 2024-25 that he could decline to enter free agency. He's been dodging Father Time, so passing on that large sum of money would be a shock. However, given the recent rumblings, it isn't guaranteed he'll pick up his option.

The Warriors inquired about LeBron before the deadline, but the Lakers quickly shut that down. LeBron reportedly wants to stay in LA, but that could change, especially if the team falls flat in the postseason. The Lakers plan to pursue a star in the offseason with their three first-round picks, but the LeBron clock is ticking.

If he opts out, several teams with the available cap space will jump at the opportunity to sign LeBron. Based on the latest report, the Knicks wouldn't be one of those teams (subscription required).

"Despite all the focus on James’ recent trip to New York, where he sent all sorts of pro-Knicks signals that sparked speculation about that Broadway-worthy possibility, a league source indicated the Knicks’ brass has not discussed the prospect of adding James. Not only does the team lack the requisite salary cap space necessary to make room for James this summer, but the idea of the Knicks making moves to free up that sort of money would be seen internally as a serious setback to their long-term plan."

Sam Amick, Anthony Slater, Jovan Buha

Knicks reportedly view LeBron James possibility as "serious setback" to future plans

Even if LeBron were willing to take a pay cut to sign with New York, he'd still have a big paycheck. It's not like he's gone from a superstar to a role player. LeBron is still playing at a high level, averaging 24.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists per game.

The Knicks have the assets to trade for a star, a move they could make in the summer, depending on who's available. New York could actually be in a battle with LA over the services of Donovan Mitchell, but that's only if he'll want out of Cleveland.

As good as LeBron is, he'd set the Knicks back. If he were a few years younger, the possibility of adding him to the roster would be a different conversation. He's going to turn 40 in December, so he wouldn't be a long-term piece of the core New York has built. The Knicks' championship window would be very short.

It's a good thing for the Lakers that the Knicks reportedly aren't interested in pursuing LeBron because maybe he could be swayed to call Madison Square Garden home. New York is in a better position to contend than LA. The Knicks are no longer bottom-dwellers, so much so that they're in the place to pass on LeBron.