Less is more?

I found this, from Ric Bucher, on ESPN:

…the harsh reality, says one GM, is that winning a championship this year is not a priority over keeping free-agent-to-be LeBron James. In fact, there's a concern that if James wins a title this year for the Cavs, it might be easier for him to go elsewhere. The best scenario, then, if the Cavs want to make it hardest for LeBron to leave, is give him everything he wants and have their title chase falls short. And if you question valuing LeBron over a title, forget it. James roughly doubles the value of the Cavs' franchise, according to league sources. It might offend winning-is-everything sensibilities, but the truth is $200 million (the value James adds to the Cavs) means more."

What is the implicit model?  Is it a behavioral claim about James, namely that he dislikes frustration and wants to finish the job in Cleveland?  Or is it about the bidding behavior of other teams, namely they want him most (and there are more dimensions to a deal than just salary-capped $$) if he wins a title and less if they think he will quit on them too?

Comments

Black label in winter time.

Kettle One in summer time.

Oh, sorry, aren't we still talking about Malcolm Gladwell? He seems to be, just like Tyler, an expert on everything. And by that I mean everything.

HC

It has nothing to do with what other teams will bid. James is from Ohio and a combination of wanting to do right by the home town fans and avoiding the PR nightmare of appearing to abandon those fans without giving them a title (which would negatively impact his brand for advertising opportunities) that matter. If Cleveland doesn't make Lebron think that they have given him all the right supporting pieces and would continue to do so, then he won't stay because this provides him an excuse with the fans to leave.

Pay doesn't matter - every team in the league would offer LBJ the max, and I believe Cleveland can offer slightly more than any other team. Presumably whoever signs him will make some sort of pay + endorsements package a la the Beckham deal at LA.

I think the implicit model is that since James is from the Cleveland area, he prefers "championship in Cleveland" to "championship elsewhere", but once the championship is won, he is indifferent. Note that, contract or not, Kobe (and Carter, and Shaq, and Garnett, etc.) have shown that if they want to leave a team, they can pressure the team into giving them a trade. So Cleveland needs to keep Lebron happy long term. They are lucky in that, no matter how bad his supporting cast, James himself is good for 45 wins and a playoff bid.

I agree with the above commenters. If James leaves Cleveland for NY or some other big market then it would be considered a betrayal by his Cleveland fans. Like leaving his small town, working class, middle America family behind in the dust for the glitz and glamor of NYC. However, if he at least gives them a championship before he leaves then it will be less of a PR disaster.

Everyone else will bid the max for James, so the other bidder's preferences don't come into this. James is the best player on the planet, whether he wins this year or not. It is theoretically impossible for him to get any more desirable.

That being said, I expect him to win this year and I expect him to stay in Cleveland and be a one team player like Jordan and Kobe.

Agreed on the take the best one year deal approach. Even if Lebron doesn't want to leave, it keeps the love coming in.

Had a discussion with my bil who lives in NY - and though Lebron was coming there for the larger market.
I thought it was silly. Lebron already owns basketball. He is well known in China and everywhere else between here and there. I asked what larger market could they provide, do they have access to a different planet that we don't know about?

Lebron makes 10x in endorsements than what the NBA pays him. He has invested a lot at this point in his career as being the good guy. Leaving Cleveland would hurt that image. Maybe later, when he is 30, being seen as a bad boy would sell more stuff.

Comments for this post are closed