All we need is for the league to adopt the higher of their salary cap estimates for 2012 and a very good negotiator in the front office. Grunwald, how are your negotiating skills?
The higher cap number would allow the Knicks to get to 24 million under the cap (provided that they buy out Balkman). Now here is where negotiation comes in. Max contracts are determined by 28% of the total cap number for players changing teams and 30% of cap for players staying with their teams. The NBA owners originally offered to set the cap at 62 million for this season and 64 million for 2012. Therefore a max deal for Paul would be 17.9 million in 2012 and 106 million for 5 years. I propose that the Knicks try to convince Paul to take 14 million in year one, that would allow the Knicks to pay him 92 million over 5 years. That would mean that Paul would leave 2.8 million a year on the table. Since Paul wants to play here, and since playing in New York would give him greater exposure and increase the value of his off the court income, by more than 2.8 million a year, I am sure that a savvy negotiator could get Paul to take 92 million to play with Carmelo and Amare.
That leaves 10 million in cap space. Now we need a big man. I propose the Knicks go after Tim Duncan. I for one do not believe that Duncan is untouchable or that he will not take significantly less money to leave San Antonio. Duncan has already made more money than he can spend in a lifetime. He could retire today and be financially set for life. Duncan hasn't retired, because he wants to win another title. If the Knicks President can convince Duncan that his chances of winning are better in NY with Paul, Amar'e, and Carmelo, than they are in San Antonio Duncan will leave. But it will take someone who can sell championships to Duncan. By the way if I thought this up, believe Pat Riley has also, and Riley can sell ice to Eskimos when he wants to. If old ass Tim Duncan does leave SA, I would rather he come here and not Miami. Let's say we get Duncan to sign for around 5 mil. This will be hard but it could be done. Duncan would take less money to leave San Antonio if he believes a championship can be had.
That leaves 5 mil. Now here is the really hard part. There are three young players who would be good for our bench that I have been monitoring closely. I will list them in order of preference:
3. Danilo Gallinari.
Batum's fate in Portland may be determined by what Gerald Wallace decides to do and how much money Felton gets. Wallace can opt out of his contract in 2012, however since he is building a house in Portland that seems unlikely. Felton reportedly wants between 9-11 million. If Wallace decides not to opt out and Felton gets his money, then Portland who normally would keep a player like Batum may be forced to let him go. The situation in Denver is pretty clear cut, Denver plans to keep either Chandler or Gallinari but not both. Chandler's decision to go to China may have tipped the scales in his favor. Denver was already leaning towards Chandler, and since they still will have his rights, and his cap hold is much lower than Gallinari's, Gallo will probably be kicked loose. I would prefer Batum, who is a more complete player who Portland still hasn't figure out how to use properly, But Gallo is probably the guy who would sign for the least money. When Gallo was still a Knick he said he would resign with the team for 5 mil so there you go.
And since the owner's lost their nerve on the Bird exception and Roster exceptions, we will be able to re-sign Fields and whomever else we need to fill out the roster using their bird rights.
Now this could fail. The owners may decide to lower the Cap because of lost revenue from the Lockout. Chris Paul might demand a full max deal not a near max one. Tim Duncan might look at a roster with Paul, Amar'e, and Carmelo and say "two of those guys play zero defense, and the 3rd has no heart. Sorry but I am taking my talents to South Beach." And Batum, Chandler, and Gallinari may all be re-signed by their teams or want too much money. But it is a plan, and it puts names to the people taking less money and why they would take it.