Here’s a look at what that means for the Knicks:
Paint protection? In Lopez, the Knicks get a 27-year-old center with a reputation as a solid defender and rebounder.
Lopez averaged 8.7 rebounds per 36 minutes last season, including a strong 4.2 on the offensive end.
He also impacted Portland’s team defense on a consistent basis: the Trail Blazers outscored their opponents by 4.3 points per 100 possessions over the last two seasons with Lopez on the court.
Lopez isn’t a threat on offense but he could indirectly help New York on that end of the floor.
With Lopez at center, the Knicks may ask Carmelo Anthony to play power forward. In recent seasons, the Knicks have had success with Anthony at power forward.
Last season, they outscored opponents by 5.7 points per 48 minutes when Anthony played power forward. When Anthony played small forward, the Knicks were outscored by 7.2 points per 48 minutes.
What’s next? Lopez signed a four-year deal worth $54 million. This leaves the Knicks will approximately $7 million in cap space and the $2.8 million room exception.
The exception can be used once the Knicks use their available cap space.
On Friday, the Knicks met with free agents Corey Brewer and Derrick Williams, sources told ESPN's Chris Broussard. Brewer agreed to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Houston Rockets after his meeting with the Knicks, according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Calvin Watkins.
The Knicks have also expressed interest in Kendrick Perkins and Derrick Williams and would likely be able to land those players with the money left over. Another name to keep an eye on is Houston’s K.J. McDaniels.
McDaniels is a restricted free agent, so Houston would have an opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs. As a one-year veteran and a restricted free agent, McDaniels can only get a first-year salary up to the non-taxpayer midlevel exception ($5.5 million).
Under the scenario described above, the Knicks would be able to make that offer to McDaniels. McDaniels remained on the Knicks' radar as recently as Friday evening, according to a source.
"They're trying to figure it out," the source said of the Knicks.
One transaction that may have caused some Knicks fans agita was the Rockets' agreement with Patrick Beverley.
Beverley, a Knicks target, agreed to a deal for four years and $23 million, his agent said, according to The Associated Press. The first three years and $18 million are guaranteed, with the team holding a $5 million option for the fourth year. That's a contract the Knicks may have been able to afford.
The Knicks' deal for Lopez caused them to lose the ability to absorb David Lee’s $15 million contract in cap space. (Though they could sign him as a free agent is he agrees to a buyout with Golden State or trade for him by including players, which appears unlikely.)
One more note: guard Elliot Williams is a candidate for a training camp invite.
Change in approach? The Knicks haven’t had significant cap space since the summer of 2010. That summer, they cleared enough space to make a run at LeBron James. New York whiffed on James and ended up signing Amar’e Stoudemire to a $100 million contract. Stoudemire’s career in New York started strongly, but he was plagued by knee injuries in recent seasons. The Knicks ended up winning just one playoff series in his five-year tenure.
Thus far, New York seems to be taking a different approach this offseason. Team president Phil Jackson hasn’t overpaid a big-name player just to make a splash -- yet.
If things unfold as expected, Jackson will have used the majority of his cap space on Arron Afflalo (two-year, $16 million deal) and Lopez ( four-year, $52 million deal) -- two second-tier players. With these moves, it appears that Jackson is trying to make incremental improvements to the roster instead of trying to hit a home run this summer. Though, one could argue, that Jackson just struck out on all of his top targets and is signing what's left on the market.
Only time will tell if this is will all work out. But it certainly appears to be a different approach from years past. Also, Jackson's moves to date don't seem to align with the career arc of Carmelo Anthony, 31, who signed a five-year $124 million deal with the Knicks last summer. Just something else to think about when you consider what's ahead for the Knicks.