Knicks give LeBron two options; Atlanta puts heat on Johnson
Following the Nets' meeting early Thursday, the Knicks' contingent got their crack at
One was a five-year max contract worth an estimated $95 million, leaving them with space to offer another max deal to either
The other option -- as
If James turns down their offer, then the Knicks will attempt to sign two max players this summer in hope of attracting
The offer of bringing three stars to New York is a longshot, because it is very rare for free agents in any major sport to accept less money than they can earn on the open market. But the Knicks view James as one star who can afford to accept a lesser NBA salary because of his lucrative income from Nike and other product endorsers. He would be able to tell fans in Cleveland that he wasn't departing for money but for the most promising basketball opportunity, which could help reduce the damage to his own reputation should he move away from his hometown.
More than anything the Knicks hope the alluring possibility of winning championships in New York will intrigue James. Would
The Knicks were offering him an unprecedented opportunity to achieve his dreams of winning NBA championships and becoming the world's most popular and powerful athlete from the stage of New York.
It goes without saying that the offer would appear to depend on James' ability to recruit another two stars to join him in New York, because anything less may not be enough to boost the Knicks to championship contention.
A crucial component to the Knicks' plans was the availability of Johnson. Two Knicks sources described their meeting with Johnson in Los Angeles as "very promising."
Johnson's team of the last five seasons, the Atlanta Hawks, remained in Los Angeles with plans to hold a second meeting with their All-Star guard. They have already offered Johnson a max deal worth $125 million over six years. If Johnson doesn't accept the offer soon, said a league source with knowledge of Atlanta's plans, the Hawks may be forced to withdraw the offer and pursue other players in the likelihood that Johnson is likely to sign with another team.