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State of the Cap: New York Knicks

Sun, 07/06/2008 - 1:54am

 

By Josh Redetzke

7/6/08


2008/09 New York Knicks Payroll: $96.4 million
2008/09 Estimated Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly $38.4 million over cap

The Good

[img_assist|nid=1393|title=Mike D'Antoni|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=413]The wicked witch of Madison Square Garden is dead! Isiah Thomas was given the boot by new GM Donnie Walsh. As his replacement, Walsh hired Mike D’Antoni to come in and save the day. He had a lot of success in Phoenix but can his system win without Steve Nash at the helm? Who cares! It’s a new era in the Big Apple and Knick fans couldn’t be happier.

While many players on the current roster will not factor into Walsh and D’Antoni’s future plans, there are some keepers. Jamal Crawford is the type of scorer that will love the new up-tempo, quick-shooting offense. He raised his scoring average to a robust 20.6 and added a nice 5.0 assists per game, leading the Knicks in both categories. Crawford’s contract isn’t too bad for that kind of production. He’ll be paid $8.6 million next season and could earn $9.3 and $10 million the next two seasons as a player option. If he can raise his 41% shooting average, Crawford could have a breakout year.

Ironically, Nate Robinson would have been part of the Phoenix offensive juggernaut had they not traded his rights to New York back in 2005. Now, Nate will get the chance to use his quickness and three-point shooting the way it was meant to be. Robinson is entering the final year of his rookie contract and he’ll have every opportunity to show what he can do.

David Lee managed to stay healthy for a full season and continued his steady play near the basket. His 8.9 rebounds per game were second on the team and he will still be one of New York’s lowest paid players at just $1.7 million next year. Enjoy it while it lasts because the price of good role players is going up.

The Bad:
There are far more players to get rid of on this roster than you’d keep. Eddy Curry has become an embarrassment. Last year he showed some real promise, but injuries and ineffective play caused his numbers to drop dramatically. Only 4.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game from a seven-foot, 285 pound center? To quote the great Bill Walton, “that’s terrible”. To make matters worse, the three years and $31 million left on his contract make it very difficult to trade him. His large, slow body also doesn’t quite fit the D’Antoni mold for this offense. Curry’s future with the Knicks is completely up in the air.

Quentin Richardson and Jared Jeffries are also putting a severe strain on the team’s salary cap. Q will receive $8.8 million next year and $9.3 million the following year even though he doesn’t average double digits and shoots a painful 36% from the field. At least he has experience with the new coach, so a turnaround might be coming soon. I’m not sure I can say the same thing for Jeffries. He barely scores 3.7 points per game and shoots only 40% but that won’t stop him from collecting $19 million over the next three seasons. You can thank Isiah for that one.

Although, Isiah’s best mistake might have been Jerome James. Did you know that James averaged nearly $3 million dollars per appearance this season? Who does he think he is, Bill Clinton? James is owed another $6 million each of the next two seasons. I think I smell a buyout in his future.

The Future:
One of the biggest questions this off-season is what will the Knicks do with their two highest paid players, Stephon Marbury and Zach Randolph. Marbury’s career is in a complete free fall, yet he’ll be paid $21.9 million next season. D’Antoni is reportedly not a fan, so a buyout or trade is certainly possible. An expiring contract that large would be very attractive bait, but unless something extremely worthwhile came along, the best move would be to eat the contract, take the much-needed cap savings next summer, and part ways with Marbury once and for all.

Zach Randolph is an entirely different beast. He put up decent numbers last year (17.6 points, 10.3 rebounds). However, Randolph will make a boatload of money over the next three seasons, $48 million total. That is a lot of cash for someone who doesn’t play a lick of defense and seems generally uninterested in any team concepts. Milwaukee was given the chance to unload Bobby Simmons and Dan Gadzuric’s horrible contracts for Randolph and they passed, which tells you something about Zach’s rep. A buyout at this point would be very pricy so New York will be stuck having to play Randolph until he becomes a little easier to unload.

The key for the Knicks is patience. Wait until the bad contracts either expire or become tradable for other expiring deals. Build the team through the draft and low-profile moves. This isn’t the time to try and make a big splash by trading one bad deal for another in order to get your name on the front page. It will take a few years to undo the evils of the previous regime, but the team is now in much better hands. Besides, some dude named LeBron could come calling in 2010, so New York better have their salary cap under control by then.

The Knicks decision to sign Chris Duhon to the mid-level exception clears the way for the club to buyout Marbury and move forward with a true floor general. While the club didn't get Duhon cheap at around 11.5 over two years, and he still must prove that he can be a quality starter, he could turn into a valuable addition to the team.

Free Throw:
The Knicks didn’t have any conspiracies working in their favor to try and win the draft lottery and they ended up picking sixth. They had a tough decision with no clearcut star available. They ultimately decided on Europe's top prospect Danilo Gallinari. They will hope that his professional experience will help him to make a smooth transition to the NBA, and make all the Knicks fans that booed the selection look foolish.


Grade: D

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UC1000
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Cap

How did they not get an F. Giving money to Jeffries, Curry, Marbury, and James Jones makes no sense at all. At least Marbury comes off after this year. Dont eat that contract this year, buy it out. Gallinari isn't an impact player either. Duhon is a terrible pick up too. He is not a starter and it was just a throw away of money cause you have Robinson who does the same things as Duhon only better. Crawford is great for his salary but Randolph gives no effort. Overall, the only Knicks I'd keep are Crawford, Robinson, Randolph(overpaid but at least productive offensively), Lee, and Balkman. Everyone else on that roster is a cancer.

elandfried
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F

Agreed - if the Knicks don't deserve an F, no one does. Just because they have a new regime doesn't mean their cap situation is anything but a disaster.

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