Carmelo Anthony’s decision to test free agency leaves the Knicks with a long list of issues to sort out.
At the top of that list? Figuring out the best way to try to persuade Anthony to re-sign with the team.
A close second, however, is figuring out whether it’s prudent to execute a sign-and-trade if Anthony is going to leave town.
Below, we take a brief look at the pros and cons of a sign-and-trade involving Anthony.
Why the Knicks should do a sign and trade: Obviously, the Knicks would want to get something in return for Anthony if they can’t re-sign him.
But in agreeing to participate in a sign-and-trade, the Knicks would make it easier for Anthony to leave New York.
Chicago and Houston -- two of Anthony’s top suitors -- lack the cap space to sign Anthony outright. So a sign-and-trade is the easiest path for them to acquire the seven-time All Star.
Let’s say, for the purposes of this story, that the Knicks agree to execute a sign-and-trade. They’d do so with an eye on trying to maintain financial flexibility for the summer of 2015.
So Phil Jackson and the front office would likely be opposed to taking back players in a sign-and-trade whose contracts extend beyond the 2014-15 season.
Boozer’s contract expires at the end of next season, so the Knicks would be able to open up approximately $35 million in cap space for the summer of 2015.
Would Boozer alone be a fair swap for Anthony? Probably not. That’s why the Knicks would likely push for Chicago to include draft picks in the transaction -- or a young, cheap player such as Jimmy Butler or Tony Snell.
The Knicks’ 2015 cap space would also be a consideration in any sign-and-trade with Houston. The Rockets could offer Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in a sign-and-trade trade package. Both players’ contracts expire at the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. But a package centered around Lin and Asik alone probably wouldn’t be enough to get a deal done. Again, Houston would probably have to sweeten the pot with draft picks or a young, cheap player such as Chandler Parsons.
(Parsons is a restricted free agent and his new contract will likely eat into the Knicks’ 2015 cap space. But that’s OK because Parson’s is the kind of player the Knicks would try to acquire in free agency anyway. Due to CBA restrictions, though, acquiring Parsons would be difficult. The Knicks would somehow need to be below the salary cap apron, which is $4 million above the tax level, after the trade).
Why the Knicks should let Anthony walk and eschew a sign-and-trade: If the Knicks let Anthony walk without getting anything in return, logic dictates that they wouldn’t be very competitive next season. And that may not be the worst thing in the world.
The Knicks have a first-round pick in the 2015 draft. If they fail to qualify for the playoffs, that pick will end up in the lottery. By letting Anthony walk, the Knicks would also ensure themselves an incredible amount of cap space in the summer of 2015, without having to let any players acquired in a sign-and-trade leave as free agents.
Without Anthony on the books, the Knicks would be committed to just $20.6 million in salary in 2015-16.
This figure includes contracts for J.R. Smith ($6,399,750 player option for 2015-16) and Raymond Felton ($3,950,313 player option for 2015-16). It also assumes that the Knicks offer Iman Shumpert a qualifying offer of $3,695,169 (and he accepts). Lastly, this includes the third year of Tim Hardaway Jr.’s contract ($1,304,520) and assumes that the Knicks don't exercise the non-guaranteed option on Pablo Prigioni's contract.
The figure also accounts for the salary the Knicks would owe their first-round draft pick (assuming, for argument’s sake, that they have the 15th pick) and accounts for seven cap holds for the remaining roster spots ($525,093).
The Knicks’ actual cap room for that season would depend on where the league sets the cap. The 2014-15 cap is projected to be $62.9 million. Let’s assume the cap for 2015-16 is $65 million.
That means the Knicks would have approximately $44 million in cap space in the summer of 2015. And a first-round draft pick. Not a bad place to be for a team with Jackson as president and the NBA's biggest media market to call home.
Question: If they know Anthony is going to leave, do you think the Knicks should execute a sign-and-trade or let Anthony walk?
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