From the small-ball playing style featured in the NBA Finals, to the hefty contracts signed by free agents in the offseason, it’s been evident this summer that the NBA is shifting.
So much so, in fact, that the ever-enduring lure of big markets is dying. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks sit on opposite coasts, but their recent trajectories have been nearly aligned. As the two most valuable franchises in the league, the Lakers and Knicks have lofty expectations and diminished tolerance for failure.
So after a season in which the two teams combined for a 38-126 record and placed in the bottom four of the league-wide standings, this summer was crucial in turning fortunes around.
Armed with cap space, an accomplished star and the draw of a metropolitan city, the Lakers and Knicks entered free agency as heavy players.
Their respective situations looked promising for free agents on the surface, but in actuality, Los Angeles and New York were mostly offering a desired destination off the court and only potential on it.
In the Lakers’ case, a narrative has already formed that stars don’t want to play alongside 36-year-old frontman Kobe Bryant.
Those that do, recognise Bryant’s best years are clearly behind him and there aren’t many left. The Knicks don’t have that problem with 31-year-old Carmelo Anthony, but he’s also a high-usage player who does little to make others around him better – in the same vain as Bryant.
More than a knock on Anthony though, the dearth of stars willing to go to New York reflects on the little influence team president Phil Jackson and his 11 rings as a coach have.
It’s harder to sell history and past successes now to stars who know how to get themselves in the best position to win immediately.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love, who were both unrestricted free agents capable of signing with any team, are perfect cases.
Not at all surprised Lamarcus Aldridge chose #Spurs. They are THE class organization in American sports today.
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) July 6, 2015
Love chose to stay with Cleveland, even after a rocky first year riddled with indifferent form and questions over his suitability for the team, because he’s with LeBron James and as a result, always part of a contender.
Aldridge, meanwhile, spurned the Lakers after two meetings and cancelled his meeting with the Knicks before choosing the consistently great San Antonio Spurs.
Being a singular superstar and owning a city is appealing, but it’s being proved that the best players often prefer winning, even at the cost of some sort of sacrifice.
The mystique and pull of Los Angeles and New York aren’t gone, they’re just behind the concept of winning right now.
Know more about Sport360 Application