The Trail Blazers, on the verge of losing LaMarcus Aldridge and three other starters, were anything but stable. If the lowly Lakers and Knicks are stable in their current situations, something has gone drastically wrong.
But even in their own periods of upheaval, those three teams weren’t equal to Monroe.
Having narrowed his choices down to the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Milwaukee Bucks – all offering maximum contracts ranging from one to four years – Monroe determined that the allure of playing in a bigger market was furthest from his mind. His decision actually came down to two of the league’s smaller markers, with Milwaukee winning out over Portland.
This was a rough summer for the Knicks and Lakers, who struck out on major free agents. A large market just doesn’t mean what it used to.
But I’d caution reading too much into that.
Only a handful of max-level free agents seriously consider changing teams each year. Just because nobody chose the Knicks or Lakers this year means nobody will next year.
Technology has made it easier for fans to watch players in smaller markets, minimizing the need for someone to play in New York or Los Angeles. Endorsement deals are available to players on every team, because the message can still get out.
That doesn’t make market size completely irrelevant, though. Opportunities exist for players in New York and Los Angeles that don’t exist elsewhere. Even if the importance has gone down, city size hasn’t been completely negated.
The Knicks and Lakers should be concerned they couldn’t even get into Monroe’s top two. Ditto for LaMarcus Aldridge, who seemingly narrowed his choices to the Spurs and Suns before picking San Antonio. Team quality sells, and the Knicks and Lakers have stunk on the court.
But market size still matters to some players – not enough to any top free agents this year, but maybe to a couple next year.