State of the Cap: New York Knicks

Fri, 05/04/2007 - 9:33am

By Josh Redetzke

2007/08 New York Knicks Payroll: $87.7 million
a 2007/08 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $55 million
Roughly: $32.7 million over cap

[img_assist|nid=3898|title=Stephon Marbury - AP Photo: Bill Kostroun|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=250|height=476]The Good: What do Allan Houston, Jalen Rose, Maurice Taylor, Shandon Anderson, and Jerome Williams have in common? Not only do they all no longer play for the Knicks but they all come off of New York's salary cap this summer, saving the team over $50 million dollars in cap space. The roughly $90 million they will have left in salaries is still highest in the league, but at least they are getting within sniffing distance of the luxury tax threshold. Congratulations, New York!

Despite another ugly year in the Big Apple, you cannot ignore the success stories of Eddy Curry and David Lee this season. After his first year with the team, the trade that brought Eddy Curry to New York looked terrible (and the contract he signed looked even worse). Now, it looks like the Knicks might have gotten the better of the deals, at least for the moment (we'll see where the ping-pong balls end up for the Bulls). Curry was the Knicks' best offensive weapon this year and led the team in scoring with 19.5 points per game while shooting 57% from the field. If he can improve on his atrocious rebounding average (7.1), Curry could be an all-star center next season. With four years and $40 million left on his contract, the Knicks hope Curry can repeat this year's success.

A far bigger success than Curry, at least in terms of production versus pay, was forward David Lee. He'll make just under a million dollars next season even though he was the only Knick to average a double-double. The second-year player hustled for 10.7 points and 10.4 rebounds per game on efficient 60% shooting. A late season injury put a damper on an otherwise fine season by Lee, who is in for a big payday in two years when his rookie contract runs out. The Knicks better hold on to him because this one is a keeper.

The Bad: The large savings in cap space is a step in the right direction, but bad contracts still abound on New York's roster. First and foremost are Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis. Marbury will amazingly cash checks for $20.1 and $21.9 million the next two seasons. Sure, Starbury is still capable of good games now and then, but you can easily find someone else to average 16.4 points and shoot 41.5% for less than half that price. Also, his 5.5 assists per game are a career low. Marbury could be very valuable after next season as a trading chip to a team looking to dump salary. At this point, that might be the best New York can hope for.

Meanwhile, Steve Francis has been an even bigger bust. Like Marbury, Francis is owed outrageous amounts of money the next two seasons ($16.4 and $17.1 million, respectively). Not only is his 11.3 point scoring average and 40% shooting abysmal, but he was also hurt most of the year and played in only 44 games. The Knick's backcourt turned 30 years old in February and they certainly aren't getting better with age.

A few other contracts on the team are less costly, though they are still thorns in New York's side. The Jerome James signing is a disgrace. He can't even contribute more than 6 minutes a game. Speaking of 6, that's about how many millions Jerome will be paid each of the next three years.
Jared Jeffries was a silly pickup. Five years and $30 million dollars for 4 points a game and not much else? Well, at least there are only four years left to go in his contract. He did, after all, produce more than Malik Rose who will receive $7.1 and $7.6 million the next two seasons. Rose has had plenty of time to do his taxes while riding the bench. I won't even get into Quentin Richardson's and Jamal Crawford's long-term contracts since they do actually contribute something on the court (though neither of them can shoot worth a damn). Add it all up and it's easy to see why the Knicks are still the league leader in payroll.

The Future: Once Isiah Thomas trampled the New York Knicks to their lowest point, he knew the only place they could go was up. In steps Isiah the coach to try to fix the mess caused by Isiah the GM. After a modest improvement, Thomas inexplicably received a contract extension to continue coaching after this season. After that point the Knicks lost 15 of 18 falling well short of the playoffs. Oops. Has the ink dried on that extension yet?

There is a silver lining amid all the doom and gloom. New York has assembled a young core that looks promising and after next season, many of their bad contracts become valuable trading commodities. If they can find a way to jettison their me-first players for some team-oriented veterans, the Knicks might be able to climb back into the playoffs very soon. First on their list should be a guard who can make shots. When four of your top five scorers all shoot less than 42%, you've got problems. At least New York's outlook is a little less murky these days. With Isiah still in charge, that may not last long.

Free Throw: Whatever happened to that Channing guy who looked so good last year? At one point, Channing Frye was the only Knick who was untouchable in trade requests. Now? Not so much. In his second season, Frye's numbers went down across the board despite a slight increase in minutes and he saw his thunder stolen by fellow sophomore David Lee. It is safe to say that Frye's ceiling has been lowered.

Grade: D

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