How Arron Afflalo's 2016-17 option impacts the Knicks

There isn’t much left to discuss about the 2015-16 New York Knicks.

The only on-court issues worth paying attention to include:

1. How young players like Jerian Grant respond to an increase in playing time.

2. How Kristaps Porzingis finishes the season.

Beyond that, as long as the veterans stay healthy, the final six games are mostly meaningless.

For the second straight year, the real season for the Knicks starts in the offseason.

Phil Jackson needs to hire the right coach and bolster the roster through free agency in the coming months.

New York projects to have at least $18.4 million in cap space this summer (based on current cap projections) and will likely spend the money on upgrading its backcourt.

One potential issue for the Knicks? Their $18.4 million isn’t enough money to cover a max contract for a player with seven to 10 years of service, such as Kevin Durant or Mike Conley.

With $18.4 million available, Jackson will likely have to spread money around to second-tier free agents.

That can all change, of course, if Arron Afflalo or Derrick Williams decide to forgo their player options for 2016-17.

Even before the recent storyline about a strange miscommunication between Afflalo and interim coach Kurt Rambis emerged, executives around the league believed that Afflalo was likely to opt out of his $8 million contract for next season.

Some have concluded the recent issue between Afflalo and Rambis has sealed the guard's decision to opt out. Only Afflalo knows if he has made up his mind, and there’s no reason for him to announce his decision at this point in the season.

But Afflalo's decision is a pivotal one for New York.

If Afflalo opts out, it will give the Knicks a total of $25.9 million to spend this summer.

That would give the club enough space to offer a max contract -- with a $25 million value in Year 1 -- to players like Durant or Conley.

Williams’ 2016-17 player option is worth $4.6 million. If he opts out, it would bring the Knicks’ total cap space to $30 million, which takes into account a $500,000 roster exemption that needs to be added for teams with fewer than 12 players under contract.

That would give them enough money to go after a max player and add another key piece or add several second-tier players this summer.

Of course, there's also value in Afflalo and Williams opting in for next season. It's easy to forget now, but Afflalo played a major role in the Knicks' 22-22 start. Williams' 2016-17 cap number is low, and he has shown an ability to get to the free throw line and give the Knicks some scoring punch off the bench.

Either way, the Afflalo and Williams decisions are worth paying attention to in the coming weeks. Their date to decide on the options is June 22 -- and they'll both have significant impacts on the Knicks' offseason.

(This post has been updated to include Tony Wroten's cap hold, which decreased the originally reported cap space by $500,000)