The Knicks' secret weapon: The unlikely bonus

By Chris Sheridan

I just published a lengthy blog post on the ESPNNewYork site taking a detailed look at the salary cap specifics relating to the New York Knicks' free agency plans for this summer, and colleague Andrew Marchand has a story up in which coach Mike D'Antoni basically says he'll probably be gone a year from now if this summer turns into a disaster.

But I also wanted to call attention to one advantage the Knicks will have on their side this summer: The unlikely bonus.

Again, you can read more about this in the blog post on the ESPNNewYork site, but here is the gist of the unlikely bonus part:

Should Plan A fail, or should the Knicks go after one maximum salary player and two lesser players, they will have one trick up their sleeve. Let's say there's a player out there who no team is willing to offer more than $8 million. The Knicks could make the same offer but tack on a $2 million bonus for making the playoffs. In salary cap parlance, that would be known as an "unlikely" bonus -- unlikely because the Knicks did not make the playoffs this season.

And it is to the Knicks' benefit that two of the other likely heavy hitters in free agency, Chicago and Miami, cannot offer similar bonuses because they made they playoffs this season.

UPDATE: With Friday's news that the NBA expects the cap for next season to be in the neighborhood of $56.1 million, the Knicks are now assured of having enough space to pursue two max-salary free agents and still have money leftover.