New York Knicks

NY Knicks' 2014 NBA Free-Agency Primer: What You Need to Know

Thomas DuffyFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2014

NY Knicks' 2014 NBA Free-Agency Primer: What You Need to Know

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    Ron Turenne/Getty Images

    Think of the craziness that would ensue during a night out on the town with J.R. Smith.

    Now multiply that craziness by 10, and you're looking at the 2013-14 NBA offseason.

    Despite the fact that the New York Knicks are backed into a financial corner, president of basketball operations Phil Jackson has made it clear that changes will be made.

    Just ask Tyson Chandler.

    One day before the NBA draft, the veteran 7-footer was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks along with the underachieving Raymond Felton in exchange for wily point guard Jose Calderon, a few role players and two second-round picks that eventually became Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

    Trading Chandler and Felton is one thing, but potentially losing superstar Carmelo Anthony is another. That’s a real possibility this summer, as Melo could be on his way out of New York.

    Gulp.

    A word to the wise: Buckle up and hold tight, Knicks fans. This could get bumpy.

    Here's everything you need to know as the 'Bockers embark on a treacherous journey through the free-agency jungle.

Current Roster Situation

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Wondering what the deal is with New York's roster next year? Look no further. Here's a list of players currently under contract along with an approximation of what they're going to make in 2014-15.

    • Amar'e Stoudemire, $23 million
    • Andrea Bargnani, $12 million
    • Jose Calderon, $7 million
    • J.R. Smith, $5.9 million
    • Samuel Dalembert, $3.8 million
    • Iman Shumpert, $2.7 million
    • Wayne Ellington, $2.5 million
    • Pablo Prigioni, $1.6 million
    • Shane Larkin, $1.6 million
    • Tim Hardaway Jr., $1.3 million
    • Jeremy Tyler, $948K

    Now, for argument's sake, let's throw in a max deal for Melo. That $129 million contract would come out to an average of $25.8 million per year and would put the Knicks well over the cap for next season.

    Keep in mind that the list doesn't include rookies or Metta World Peace's $1.6 million deal, and that the Knicks still have interest in re-signing free agent PG Tour'e Murry.

    Time to pop open that checkbook, Mr. James Dolan.

     

    Contract information courtesy of Hoops Hype.

     

The Melo Saga

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    In October, Anthony said that he was going to opt out of the final year of his deal with the ‘Bockers and test the market. Nine months later, Anthony made good on his word.

    The most confusing aspect of Melo’s free agency is financial. ESPN New York’s Ian Begley broke it down in layman’s terms:

    The Knicks can offer Anthony the most money of any team vying for him this summer. New York can give Anthony a max contract worth $129 million over five years. Other teams can offer Anthony a max deal of $96 million over four years.

    It is unclear at this point if the Knicks and president Phil Jackson are willing to offer Anthony a maximum contract. Jackson declined to answer a question about potential money for Carmelo last week. Jackson has also publicly asked Anthony to “stick to his word” and take less than maximum money to re-sign with the Knicks.

    Anthony decided to meet with the Chicago Bulls on July 1, the inaugural day of free agency. And that's a big deal.

    Chicago would appear to provide Anthony with the best chance to contend for a championship and would have arguably the best star trio in the league with Anthony, Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.

    Melo will also have heard pitches from the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers by the time he picks a landing spot.

    Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears reported that Anthony, who has met with Jackson multiple times in recent months, hopes to have his mind made up on his 2014-15 destination by the second week in July.

    The Knicks have a lot going in their favor, most notably the amount of money the team can offer the 30-year-old scoring machine. Anthony’s heart appears to be in the Big Apple, too.

    But he wants to win. And c’mon—the Knicks aren’t winning anything anytime soon. Sure, they might be headed in the right direction under PJax, but the team is far from its ultimate goal of contending for a title.

    Still, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the ‘Bockers remain the favorite to land Melo.

    Here's an important excerpt from Marc Berman of the New York Post:

    According to two sources, Anthony's wife, La La Vasquez, also a Brooklyn native, is very happy in New York and is opposed to Melo leaving the Knicks. He became a free agent for the first time in his career at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, but Anthony said in a video interview posted last week he's worried about uprooting his family and 7-year-old son, Kiyan.

    'There's reason to believe he's staying,' said one individual with ties to Anthony's inner circle. 'There's just too much money out there. He's doing to the right things, though. He's got to make the rounds.'

    New York can give Anthony $33 million more than any other team. So, in the end, expect Melo to return to New York.

    But don't stop crossing those fingers, Knicks fans, because you never know what could happen. Followers of the Cleveland Cavaliers will vouch for that.

Forget About LeBron, It's Not Happening

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There seems to be this growing dream shared amongst Knicks fans that their beloved team somehow has a shot at landing the best player in the world this summer.

    It's time to wake up.

    Despite the fact that he opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat and will be the league's most sought-after unrestricted free agent, LeBron James isn't going to touch the Knicks with a 10-foot pole.

    According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, it'll take a max deal in order to land the King, who has never been the highest-paid player on team in his 11 years in the NBA.

    Sorry, Knicks fans.

    Even if New York had financial room for James, would a player that's chasing championship rings be wise to come to the rebuilding Knicks?

    While James may ditch Miami—a team that looked reminiscent of his former Cavs squads in the 2013-14 Finals—for the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers or another contender, the Knicks are out of the LeBron sweepstakes.

     

Pursuing Pau

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    Since Jackson has taken over basketball operations in New York, he’s shown an affinity for his former Lakers confidants.

    He brought in Derek Fisher as head coach, looked at guys like Luke Walton (no, seriously), Tyronn Lue, Brian Shaw and Kurt Rambis for the position and also signed troubled forward Lamar Odom to a small deal at the end of the regular season.

    So, it’s only right that Jackson goes after an unrestricted free agent and former two-time NBA champion under the Zen Master, Pau Gasol.

    When the Lakers drafted Julius Randle with the seventh pick in the NBA draft, it was all but a farewell for Gasol, who has clashed with LAL brass in recent years.

    There’s one problem with New York's pursuit—money.

    Regardless of whether Anthony re-ups with NYK, the team will only be able to offer Gasol less than $4 million next season.

    Veteran players taking pay cuts in order to play where they want seems to be a trend these days. But to go from about $19 million, which is what Gasol made last year, to around $3 million is a steep drop.

    Perhaps Jackson, who won two titles with Gasol in Los Angeles, will be able to entice the veteran 7-footer to create one of the NBA’s best scoring frontcourts along with Anthony.

    The recently acquired Calderon, a close friend of both Gasol brothers, would definitely help, too.

    “For sure, this is my team. I’m going to help to improve it as much as I can,” Calderon told Berman when asked if he’d help recruit free agents. “Anybody that we can get here or would be interested, I’d be willing to talk to, to try to make them come to the Knicks.”

    Fisher’s presence on the sideline would also likely help Gasol, who thrived in L.A.'s triangle offense, choose New York.

    Re-signing Melo is the Knicks’ top priority this summer. But inking a deal with a crafty, decorated scoring big man like Gasol would be a huge victory for the ‘Bockers.

Does Phil Have Anything Else Up His Sleeve?

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Thanks to a capped-out roster led by Amar'e Stoudemire, who chose not to exercise his early termination option and instead rack up over $23 million next year, the Knicks don't have much leeway.

    So, outside of some wheeling and dealing on the trade market, the Knicks aren't in a position to make any drastic changes other than pursuing Melo and Gasol.

    But as Jackson proved with the Mavericks deal, he's looking to shake things up. With limited free-agent options available, don't rule out another trade by the Zen Master.

    The Knicks certainly appear to be turning things around after a dreadful 2013-14 campaign, but this offseason will be crucial to the team’s future success.

    If all goes according to plan—Melo returns, Gasol dons the blue and orange and Jackson continues to improve the roster—there is a bright future ahead of the Knicks.

    And it all starts this summer.

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