Knicks 'zzone

Newsday's Al Iannazzone takes you inside the Knicks.

MSG stock could offer LeBron financial stake in team success

LeBron James celebrates his shot agianst the Boston

LeBron James celebrates his shot agianst the Boston Celtics during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs on May 9, 2010 in Boston. (Credit: Getty Images)

The Knicks may have a way to make up the difference in salary  that LeBron James can make if he stayed in Cleveland as opposed to signing in New York. They can offer LeBron the chance to invest in his own success . . . and reap the financial rewards.

According to an article by Forbes Magazine national editor Michael K. Ozanian, "next season LeBron will be playing for the New York Knicks because this January they became the only franchise that can use their stock as currency."

The CBA does not allow a player to own an ownership stake in his team and the Knicks can't give him stock in MSG because it circumvents the salary rules. But there is no rule against James buying stock in the parent company of a team, in this case, MSG, Inc (MSG on NASDAQ).

Sec. 8 Limitation on Player Ownership

During the term of this Agreement, no NBA player may acquire or hold a direct or indirect interest in the ownership of any NBA Team; provided, however, that any player may own shares of any publicly-traded company that directly or indirectly owns an NBA Team.

If LeBron James signs with the Knicks, it's fair to assume the value of the franchise, not to mention MSG, would see an immediate spike. The stock closed at $21.83 last night.

But could LeBron buy the stock before he signs or could he be charged with insider trading? Or would that only be an issue if he sold his stock before requesting a trade?

Even if he played it safe and purchased his stock after the official announcement of his signing with the Knicks, LeBron could reap the benefits of his own investment based on his own success and how it translates to the franchise and, ultimately, the Garden. Consider the potential value of MSG, Inc. with a player of LeBron's popularity, the potential for great success based on his presence and, of course, the $775M-$850M Garden transformation, all internally financed, that is expected to be completed by 2015.

Under the current CBA, the success of the league and its teams only matter to the players via the salary cap, which is set by the revenues. In this situation, LeBron is directly invested in the success of the franchise and its parent company. In other words, he'd have an ownership interest without technically being an owner. And this isn't something LeBron would only benefit from in the short-term, with an initial bang for his buck upon signing (not only would Knicks season tickets likely sell-out, but MSG Network could charge more for commercial time for Knicks broadcasts as a result of LeBron's presence, so everyone in the MSG group benefits from his presence.

The Knicks may have an interesting loophole here.

* * *

* - No one is going to turn a blind eye to Wilson Chandler's arrest Tuesday night for criminal possession of marijuana, but let's not blow this thing too far out of proportion. One report pointed out that he has tattoos and often tweets lyrics "gangsta-rap" music. I had to chuckle at that one because, far as I can recall, "gangsta-rap" was a 90s thing and I don't think Wilson tweeted anything by N.W.A. (I often quote hip hop lyrics here and on Twitter, does that make me a bad guy, too?)

Do we really have to make him out to be just another J.R. Rider?

Not sure how any of this is an indictment on the character of a 23 year old guy who, by all accounts, is undoubtedly one of the nicest, well-liked and soft-spoken players on the Knicks.  Did he use awful judgement? Yes. Should he be reprimanded for this? Absolutely. Does he need to find himelf more responsible friends who have a little more consideration for his public image? That's easy for us to say. But along with those "gangst-rap" lyrics, I did notice Wilson had tweeted a lot of deep thoughts recently about how difficult it is to balance people from your past while being responsible for your future.

I'd directly quote him, but Wilson inexplicably deleted his Twitter account after the arrest, which is disappointing. Though among his teammates, Wilson is quite talkative and expressive, he often seemed very uncomfortable during interviews with members of the media. Though one reporter labeled him as "inarticulate", I'd say he was more self-conscious. But through Twitter, Wilson's personality started to come out and he offered some good insight on playoff games as a Twitter reporter for NBA.com. Hopefully this situation doesn't send him back into a shell.

* - As Tom Rock reported on his Giants blog, Osi Umenyora had a message for LeBron James and, unlike the endorsements most New York-based pro athletes have given, Umenyora says LeBron should stay in Cleveland because, if he has a bad game, "Knicks fans will come down on him."

Guess with Osi, misery doesn't want company?

But to be fair, Umenyora did say "There is no better place to be when you're winning than New York. And there's no better place to be than New York, it's a great city with great energy."

"But it does go both ways," Umenyora added. "When you lose, it is tough."

You mean like when fans in Cleveland booed LeBron and the Cavs off the court in Game 5?

Yeah, that stuff only happens in New York.

 

Tags: NBA , Knicks , MSG , Inc. , LeBron James , Forbes , Wilson Chandler , Osi Umenyora , Giants

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