Why LeBron is going to the Nets

I’m not big on making predictions because I am usually proven wrong, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and make the case for LeBron James signing with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets. And no, it has nothing to do with the lack of faith I have in “my” Knicks, although I do think they will crap out anyway. There are a few reasons why I think the Nets make the most sense, and I’ll get into them below. Feel free to knock me or my reasoning as well:

Reason 1: The Money

Quite frankly, if it was only about the NBA contract, LeBron would have resigned with Cleveland and taken the extra tens of millions of dollars. But it isn’t nearly about the tens of millions for playing in the NBA – it is the additional hundreds of millions (or more) in endorsements, other marketing and other deals. So to that end, what can make LeBron the most money overall? Endorsements, business deals and “branching out” to set himself up as a global icon. Much of this revolves around the money and some revolves around the fame – which I’ll get into in a minute.

New York would make the most sense just looking at the opportunity to make money outside of endorsements, even though a name as big as LeBron’s would make tons of money either way – especially if he were to sign with Chicago. But the “Russian Mark Cuban”, as the Nets new owner has been called is a multi multi billionaire and can make LeBron a billionaire with the various business deals he is involved in. Jay-Z (who LeBron loves) can do the same.

Reason 2: The Fame

Yes, LeBron is the biggest or one of the biggest names in the NBA, and yes, everyone is waiting to see where he goes. But Prokhorov and Jay-Z can make LeBron an international icon – not just here in the US. I don’t think that any other team or owner can do that; outside of what LeBron can otherwise do for himself. Granted, this isn’t the 2nd most important reason, but it is a reason.

Reason 3: The Players and Coach

While the Bulls probably offer the best supporting cast right now, that may change in a few years (see below). The Knicks have an intriguing pair of players in Danilo Gallinari and (if he stays) David Lee as well as cap space next year for someone like Carmelo Anthony or another big name. The Cavaliers can add another piece or two as they have a very solid core and can add pieces as LeBron sees fit. And the Nets have Brook Lopez (one of the best centers in the Eastern Conference), Devin Harris and a top 3 draft choice, plus a ton of cap space as well.

On the coaching side, Avery Johnson is a very respected coach and makes the Nets attractive. D’Antoni is more of a plus but has one nagging question that most will never know the answer to, and the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau is a new coach for the Bulls but pretty respected in terms of defense.

Reason 4: The Owner

With respect to the Bulls, in a couple of years, they have to pony up for big time contracts for Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Knowing that Bulls owner Reinsdorf is a bastard and has shown in the past (post-Jordan/Pippen) to trade big name players instead of paying out the big contracts. Now that may change with LeBron, but who knows.

As for the Knicks, let’s just leave it as Dolan is a moron.

Cleveland’s situation is a mess, although LeBron could probably get the owner to do whatever he wants.

The Nets have an owner who would spend countless millions on marketing alone, let alone putting a winner on the court year in and year out. For example, someone I work with told me earlier today that the Nets put a huge banner up across the street Madison Square Garden with Jay-Z and Prokhorov’s faces on it – right in the Knicks’ backyard. There is little doubt that he would be like Cuban and Steinbrenner when it comes to dedication to consistent winning. Oh yeah, and Jay-Z is a minority owner as well.


So of course, there are things in favor of LeBron signing with the Bulls, the Knicks, the Nets and the Cavs – and there may even be other teams in the mix (like Miami but I don’t think that happens for many many reasons). But all in all, the Nets give LeBron the bright lights and big city of NY (and Brooklyn is his favorite Borough), the worldwide fame, the billions in annual income, a solid core, a good coach and a chance at multiple titles.

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  1. Posted July 1, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    I think the Nets have been underplayed by the punditry. If the goal is to win a title next year, then sure, the Bulls are probably a tad closer. But for the long term? I think LBJ needs a cast where he’s the one with the ball in his hands, and with Rose in Chicago you’d have two on-the-ball guys. The Nets have buttloads of money and flexibility.

    I don’t think LeBron will see it this way in the end, but I may be wrong.

  2. EZ Leban
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    While bashing Reinsdorf is popular these days (especially among unelightened Knicks fans who project their fear of MJ and his legacy onto LeBron) it is well documented that the Bulls will spend whatever it takes when they are in contention to win a championship. Jordan was easily the highest paid player in his day, and if there had been a salary cap the 2nd ThreePeat would have featured teams that would have crushed that cap as Rodman, Pippen, Harper, Kukoc and Longley were not playing with discounted contracts. Also, once it was clear that the run was over (a year too early for my liking), the Bulls front office did Pippen a huge favor by signing him to an extension before trading him for basically nothing so that he could earn a lot more than he would have been able to garner in free agency. This is one of many, many examples of the current owner paying out way beyond what he owes to his players and former players contractually. The Chicago Tribune had a lengthy article on this topic after Wade’s remarks which were clearly said as part of his efforts to recruit free agents to Miami. It is sad that Riley can use and is using Wade as a spokesperson for the Heat without penalty but other owners or GMs make an offhand joke in passing and get a $10K fine.

    Other than playing in the world’s most run down arena I can not think of a single thing the Knicks have over the other teams and including Dolan in the recruiting meeting is a death knell for that signing.

    It’s amazing the Team USA was able to win with LeBron and Wade et al since most of those players need the ball in their hand. On the Cavs LeBron needed the ball in his hand as his team mates stunk, I am sure he would be happy to be able to take a few possessions off per quarter without having his team loose points every time he does.

    At this point, it is a 3 team race between the Cavs (home town, $30 million), Bulls (best chance to win now and multiple titles) and Nets (decent roster and Prokorhov). The Knicks have as much chance as the Mavericks, or as much chance of me winning Take 5 today.

  3. EZ Leban
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    In the post Jordan era, name one time the Bulls were in contention. It is not possible. Still they spent above market to bring in Ben Wallace in the hopes that his D and the young team they had at the time would be able to advance. It didn’t work out, but it shows they will spend when they think it will lead to winning.

  4. Adam Lambert
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    It isn’t about being in contention only. Look at the big names they let go (not counting the times they ripped off the Knicks). There are more former Bulls around the league as there are former Islander goalies in the NHL.

    Of course, that is only one of the four reasons I put above, so even to concede that, there are still 3 others why I think he comes to the Nets – and none involve Jordan’s ghost (which I still think is a bit of the case but not even making the top 5 reasons).

  5. EZ Leban
    Posted July 1, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    Name a single former Bull that is a current All Star.

    As to your comparison, clearly that is off since more players in the NHL have played for the Islanders than have not and after hearing the awesome offseason strategy of Garth Snow for this offseason the % that has played (unhappily) for the Fishsticks will go up

    Letting mediocre and bad players go should not be a damnation of management, other than why were they on the team in the first place. Also, continually fleecing the Knicks should be (and was by all Bulls fans) applauded. No one misses Zeke more than John Paxson.

    The only player of note that they let go when he was good was Elton Brand and they traded him to get the 2nd pick in the draft. While that did not work out, it’s not like it was a salary dump. In the past 10 years the only salary dumps that come to mind were the recent ones for Salmons and Hinrich and they needed to do that to have a shot at this summer’s free agents, clearly worth the shot. And Salmons is now a free agent and they could re-sign him if they wanted to (but that won’t happen).

    I finally found an advantage that the Knicks have over the other teams with cap space, and it will make you laugh. It’s Eddy Curry!!! His deal is finally expiring this year and the Knicks could end up with $11M in cap space for next summer to go after someone like Tony Parker or Tim Duncan. I would add Carmelo but he probably will either sign an extension or get traded so I doubt he would be available.

    As to your other points, clearly #4 is more to be determined than a reality (though I admit the big middle finger to Dolan billboard across from MSG is a good indication and also pretty cool). And as for #1 and #2, there was this other player that won titles in Chicago who did pretty well for himself in both regards. The biggest market in the world China loves winners (and that is why Kobe outsells LeBron there by a mile). So as much as you may say #3 is only 1 factor it has a big impact on #1 and #2.

    Of course, LeBron would actually have to win something with the Bulls (which would be the first non-MJ title for the team) for #1 and #2 to have a chance at applying whereas Prokorov could give him an aluminum mine on the Kamchatkan Pennisula just for signing with the Nets, so the Nets have a great argument for #1.

    All in all I think he stays in Cleveland but if he leaves, I think the Bulls and Nets have the best shots at acquiring his services.

  6. Kevin S.
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I do believe the Nets have a much better shot than the Knicks. I never understood why the pathetic Knicks were ever considered to be in the running. LeBron has deep roots in northwestern Ohio, and if he leaves, it will be either to seriously pursue a championship or to build his brand. That makes Miami (for title contention) and the Nets (because of the Russian owners plans to make the *team* an international brand) the most likely non-Cleveland contenders.

  7. EZ Leban
    Posted July 2, 2010 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Miami has 2 players under contract, Chalmers and Beasley. How are they in title contention? While Wade has said he would prefer to return, he has qualified that statement that he is only going back if the Heat acquire the right assets. With teams like Memphis and Atlanta paying out max contracts there is on guarantee any team with cap space will even have a chance at the top free agents.

    The Bulls have actual players that are good, an All Star, a future All Star, and all Rookie team forward.

  8. Adam Lambert
    Posted July 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Leban – are you a Bulls fan?


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