Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Report: LeBron to Sign with New York

In what has to be considered a surprise, reports have leaked linking LeBron James to signing with New York. This will leave the Cavaliers decimated as they will go from the class of the East to almost certainly a bottom dweller. The deal seems to be odd on the surface but it will give LeBron access to the New York market and should turn out to be the most overall profitable deal for him. He will receive a 7 year/$150 million deal and be assigned to AA Trenton Thunder.

James’ contract is believed to hold a clause requiring the Yankees to call him up in September when the rosters expand.  General Manager Brian Cashman called him an “extraordinary athlete” that “any organization would be lucky to have.” Cashman also cited that part of the Yankees evaluation process takes into account how well the player in question can be expected to adjust to the pressures of New York. There were no such concerns with James who played on national television in high school and has been an international sensation since being drafted by the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

The language of the contract could take some time to work out. James will not be permitted to play basketball in the first year of the contract but may play upon making the MLB All-Star team. It seems likely he will be voted in based on his fame and the Yankees fan base backing him. Upon qualifying for a return to the NBA the team that obtains his rights will have to pay the Yankees $10 million per season of the NBA contract. James would be permitted to leave the Yankees once they are eliminated from the postseason or playoff contention. It still must be worked out how the beginning of the MLB season will play out since that is crunch time for the NBA but experts don’t see the Yankees allowing James to miss the first two months of their season.  The contract will also contain a partial no trade clause in which he will be allowed to choose up to 50 MLB/NBA teams that he does not wish to be traded to/bought by.

LeBron cited the new challenge of baseball as the main reason he signed with the Yankees. He will have to learn a completely new sport but will have the chance to win over a new fan base. Harold Reynolds of the MLB Network, who first broke the story, has fairly low expectations of James in the 2011 season but points out that he is a gifted athlete who is still young. James does project to have moderate power given his size and athletic ability who could become a plus fielder. It is anybody’s guess as to how quickly he will take to start making contact consistently.

For the Yankees this is a fairly safe investment. LeBron apparel should fly off the shelves once it is produced. The potential revenue from merchandise and from any NBA team looking to buy his services on the court should bring a large portion of LeBron’s salary back to the Yankees. Additionally the Yankees and Mets engage in an annual basketball game. One that the Mets have won five years in a row (based largely on Delgado’s post play).

While nobody really knows how this experiment will go most agree that Los Angeles will land an expansion NFL team in 2015 and that LeBron will be the starting tight end.

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