Since word was released earlier that Lebron James plans to make his free agent choice on ESPN live Thursday At 9 PM EST from a Boys and Girls Club facility in Greenwich, Connecticut, which is only minutes from the New York Knicks’ practice facility at SUNY Purchase in Rye, New York, speculation has been rampant that the prized free agent is set to join the New York Knicks.  The Knicks, who were the only team to receive a second audience with James of the 6 suitors, were said to have sought James’ blessing on the free agent acquisition of Amar’e Stoudemire, which James granted.  Also, at that 2nd meeting, James’ agent is believed to have discussed with the Knicks in detail their plans to continue to improve the team, which included a conversation about the salary cap space that New York will have after the 2010-2011 season, and the Knicks’ ability to sign another max contract free agent, which they assured James’ representatives they would be able to do.

Other signs that seem to favor the Knicks today are a noticeable rise in the value of Madison Square Garden stock, and tweets by Stoudemire’s former Phoenix teammate and close friend, Jared Dudley, stating that James will announce tomorrow that he is signing with New York.

Aside from Greenwich being a short drive from the Knicks training facility in Greenburgh, NY, former Suns teammate of Amar’e Stoudemire, Jared Dudley, posted on his Twitter account earlier Monday, “Breaking News!!! My sources tell me LeBron will announce that he will be goin to the NY KNICKS tomorrow on ESPN.. This is serious.. WOW!!!!”

And if you’re trying to read the tea leaves, shares of Madison Square Garden Inc. (MSG) rose 6.4 percent today.

Though the article linked above was co-written by NY Daily News Knicks’ beat writer Frank Isola, Isola appeared via telephone with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on Mad Dog Radio on Sirius XM Satellite Radio in the past hour, and downplayed James to New York, while predicting that James will remain in Cleveland.  Frankly, and this comes from a devout Knick fan, Isola is a very poor Knicks’ reporter, who has only been updating his Knicksnation blog about once a day, despite myriad developments over the last week involving the Knicks.

Isola offered zero information in his 20 minute spot with Russo, downplayed Dudley’s twitter remarks, and surmised out loud that James is going to pick Cleveland from Connecticut as a means of creating a smoke screen, because James likes the drama and suspense he has created, and any announcement coming from Ohio would be read into that James will obviously return to Cleveland.  This situation is entirely unique in sport where a professional athlete calls his own press conference to announce a free agent destination, but when high school recruits do so, generally the school of choice does already know of the athlete’s decision.

Could Isola know more than he lets on and be sworn to secrecy, like everyone is at ESPN, where some surely must know what team James chose, but who will not say a thing and risk compromising their prime time ratings tomorrow night?  Isn’t the team James chooses going to be eager to in the very least put a uniform and hat on James and get some photos with their new or returning star?  The proximity of Greenwich to the Knicks’ training facility in Rye would allow the Knicks the easiest access to James in Connecticut, while offering Cleveland the worst access.  Greenwich is widely considered to be Knicks’ country.  James obviously has known what team he will choose for at least a day, since making the announcement that he will make the announcement live in the 9 to 10 PM slot Thursday evening on ESPN.  James probably made his decision as soon as he knew that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade were signing with Miami.

Whereas many, including Isola, have suggested that James is “too good a guy” to go on national television and completely destroy a city, and that announcing he is leaving Cleveland in this manner would be akin to stabbing Cleveland in the back, others feel that James will make his announcement devoid of sentiment, and will choose based on what is best for his career going forward.  A major factor in that line of reasoning would have to be Chris Bosh’s rejection of a sign and trade to Cleveland yesterday, which would clearly delineate to deluded Clevelanders that real NBA stars not from Ohio do not want any part of living in Ohio, even if it meant a chance to play with James.  James one time good friend and teammate, Carlos Boozer, also jilted James once, leaving Cleveland as a free agent, though he pledged not to, to play for the Utah Jazz.  Boozer, another highly sought free agent this year, agreed to a 5 yr, $ 80 M deal with Chicago this afternoon.

James’ mother Gloria was said to have a sexual relationship with James’ Cleveland teammate Delonte West, who Cleveland is desperately trying to trade, probably in a last ditch effort to appease James any way they can.  West was rumored to be part of the Bosh proposed sign and trade, and was rumored this morning to be in separate deals, some alongside Jamario Moon, so that Cleveland could make additional cap space.

If James chooses the Knicks, I for one feel the Knicks owe a great debt to Bosh, whose decision to nix Cleveland yesterday was monumental.  If the Knicks lose out on the guy who has been the apple of their eye for years, they will probably try to improve their roster by exploring sign and trade options in which they dealt David Lee.

Though one prominent New York name in sports doesn’t think it will come to that.  Yankees GM Brian Cashman said this week he fully expects James to make the best decision for himself, and predicted the star would sign with the Knicks.


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