The New York Knicks project to have approximately $19 million in cap space for the summer of 2016.
That’s a significant amount of money, but not enough to sign a 2016 free agent to a maximum contract.
Here’s a breakdown of the Knicks’ finances for the summer of 2016 after their recent free-agent signings:
The money owed to those players in 2016 totals to $55.3 million.
If Williams and Afflalo exercise their options, worth $4.6 million and $8 million respectively, the Knicks will have $67.9 million in committed salary for 2016-7.
Under the scenario described above, the Knicks would be four players shy of the league-minimum of 12 required on a roster.
So four roster charges (approximately $540,000 each) would be applied to their salary cap for a total of approximately $2,160,000.
The roster charges increase the Knicks’ committed salary for 2015-16 to approximately $70.1 million. The cap for 2015-16 is projected at $89 million.
That would leave the Knicks with about $18.9 million in cap space to use in the summer of 2016.
This is a significant sum, but it probably won't be enough to attract the top free agents in the class of 2016.
If the 2016 cap ends up at the projected mark of $89 million, the breakdown for max salaries is as follows:
Players with 0-6 years of service are eligible for max contracts starting at $20,947,250.
Players with 7-9 years of service are eligible for max contracts starting at $25,136,700.
And players with 10 or more years of service are eligible for max deals starting at $29,326,150.
All of the numbers above exceed the Knicks’ projected cap space.
It also should be noted that the Knicks will also have plenty of competition in the free agent market next summer.
Many teams will have significant cap space thanks to the salary cap's massive increase.
So Phil Jackson and the Knicks may have to settle for second-tier free agents next summer, just as they did in 2016.
Obviously, New York would have more cap space next summer if Afflalo or Williams decline their player options for 2016-17. The Knicks can also create more cap space in the summer of 2016 by trading or waiving one of the players signed to a guaranteed contract.
Many have discussed the possibility of waiving Calderon under the stretch provision. Doing so after July 1, 2016 can create an extra $5 million in cap space for 2016. That extra space would allow the Knicks to sign a max free agent with 0-6 years of service but they'd need to use nearly all of their cap space to do so.
Lastly, cap projections are subject to change. The 2015 salary cap was projected at $67 million but actually was $70 million once the numbers were calculated. The same could happen in the summer of 2016, which would leave the Knicks with a little extra cap space but would also increase the value of max contracts.