There was plenty of drama as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade faced each other for the final time last night, but James’ postgame comments led to speculation that his summer decision came down to the Lakers and Knicks.
As the longtime friends hugged after the game, Wade said “I appreciate you for letting it end here,” meaning at the Staples Center, and James responded, “It was either here or at (Madison Square) Garden, that’s it.”
Although many are taking that as an indication that James was considering signing with New York, multiple sources close to him tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that isn’t true. The statement referred to the magnitude of their final game and how LeBron felt it deserved a special setting.
Vardon adds that apart from the Lakers, James gave serious consideration to staying with the Cavaliers or going to the Sixers, who were the only other team he met with before signing in L.A.
Although James heading to New York would have shaken up the NBA landscape just as much as joining the Lakers, the Knicks didn’t have the cap room available to offer anything close to a max contract. The team’s only significant free agent additions of the offseason were Mario Hezonja, who received a one-year, $6.5MM contract that came out of the Knicks’ mid-level exception, and Noah Vonleh, who got a partially guaranteed one-year deal.
On top of that, tweets ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, James wouldn’t have considered New York because of how the front office, especially former team president Phil Jackson, treated his friend, Carmelo Anthony in his final seasons with the team.