LeBron James can opt out of his contract at the end of this season to test free agency. He can do the same thing after next season.

The New York Knicks, of course, are well aware of this.

In a perfect world for Phil Jackson & Co., LeBron opt outs out his contract after next season and tests free agency in the summer of 2015.

New York is expected to be well under the cap at that point and should have the money to make a serious play for James.

But money alone won't be enough to lure James to New York, according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst. The Knicks will also need to prove that they're ready to contend for a title.

Writes Windhorst:

When James looks at his menu of options next month he will focus on being with a team that is built to contend for championships right now. Not in two years. Not after new teammates get their first taste of the playoffs. Now.

At age 29 and in his prime, James is not in the business of playing for a team that is still developing. He wouldn't have much interest in losing a season while a coach is learning the ropes, either. James is very focused on adding titles and being on a team that has the expectation to be a yearly contender, essentially a situation like he has been in for the past four seasons.

Windhorst later adds:

If he were to make a dramatic jump again at this point in his career, it would almost certainly take a situation like he chose in 2010, when the Heat offered an incomparable package of star power and title readiness. It likely would take some sort of dream scenario again to get James to even think about moving on.



It's hard to see the Knicks putting themselves in position to contend year in and year out by the summer of 2015.

If they re-sign Carmelo Anthony, maybe they can sell James on a tandem of he and Anthony (and a first-round pick, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert) being surrounded by accomplished veterans willing to accept veteran's minimum contracts.