Next Season's Roster and the Cap and the Tax

OK, so, I read this article:

Good stuff. It outines some of the numbers the Knicks need to skirt around in their quest to sign their guys or other guys and field a basketball team next season, which is something most of us agree should be done if at all possible.

But what the article doesn't do is actually get into the nitty gritty of how much the Knicks can offer whom, and what the options are, and how J.R. Smith's option-taking or not-taking affects all that.

So now, dig this:

Here the the Knicks current salary committments for next season, in millions..

Anthony 20.46
Stoudemire 19.95
Chandler 13.6
Shumpert 1.56
Douglas 1.15
Harrellson 0.474
Jordan 0.474
Balkman 1.675

Now, next year's salary cap is 58.04 million. So the Knicks are over it. The Luxury tax threshold is 70.3 Million. And there's this thing called the Apron, which is the level the Knicks must be at or under in order to use the 5 million mid-level. The apron level is 74.3 million.

The Knicks can't go above 74.3 Million if they're going to use the mid-level and they must use the mid-level if they want to pay Jeremy Lin what other teams can pay him.

With me so far? OK. So what are the options?

1. The Knicks MUST fill at least 12 roster spots, or at least have them temporarily filled by veterans minimum salariy cap holds of 1.65 million each. That means 5 spots must be added in addition to the 7 above.

a. Harrellson and Jordan's contracts are not guaranteed. But since they're quite a bit less than the vets minimum, keeping them keeps things more flexible.

CONCLUSION ONE: Jorts and Panjeromium are Knicks next year.

2. What do the Knicks have to spend? Well technically, 14.9 million. But it's not that simple. Really, they have the following things:

a. A 5 million dollar mid level exemption, which they can use on Lin or anyone else who is a free agent.

b. A 5 million dollar slot that can be used for LANDRY FIELDS AND LANDRY FIELDS ONLY. Since the Knicks have Landry's early bird rights, they can go over the cap to sign him for up to the league average, 5 million bucks or so. But if they don't sign Landry with this cash, they can't use the 5 million on some other guy.

c. A 2.5 million dollar slot they can use on J.R. SMITH and J.R. SMITH ONLY , and only if J.R. SMITH SAYS IT'S COOL. This is the second player option year of last year's 'room exception'. This year, the Knicks don't have one of those room exceptions because they are bi-annual. So the 2.5 is only for J.R.

d. A 1.8 million dollar exception, I think.

e. Veterans mimimum contracts, 1.65 million.

f. chincy little contracts for 2nd rounders.

If you add all that up, you can totally sign Lin for 5 million, Landry for five million, someone for the 1.8 million exception, a couple of league vet s(such as Jeffries) and a second rounder, still skirting under the apron and getting to 13 roster spots, one more than the minimum.

If Smith opts in, you can still do all that but you'd either have to get Landry on board for 3.4 - 4.4 million - not an impossible task, but a little less likely.

CONCLUSION TWO: The choice is not between J.R. Smith and Landry Fields, or between Landry Fields and some other guy they could sign for 3.4 - 5 million. The choice is between Landry Fields and some Vets minimum guy. And I think the Knicks try to retain Landry because I think he's better than a Vets minimum guy. For an example of a Vets min guy, see Gadzuric, Dan.

CONCLUSION THREE: Whether Novak stays or goes is completely dependent on whether he wants to take that 1.8 million exception. The 1.8 million exception cannot be combined with a portion of the mid-level, so the only way the Knicks can offer Novak more money (say, 2.5 million) is to have him split the mid-level down the middle with Lin. That's NOT going to happen, is it? Not when other teams will be offering that full mid-level to Lin. And they will. Trust me on this one.

CONCLUSION FOUR: If Smith doesn't take the option, we get a little more flexibility adding more vets min contracts and filling our roster out to 15, but that's it. It doesn't affect our ability to sign Lin and it most likely doesn't preclude signing Landry, and it doesn't give us 2.5 million to spend on some other guy.


So there you have it. Grand conclusion is that barring a trade of one of our big 3 guys, the Knicks roster will probably be:

Fields, depending on Smith and his value
A second rounder
A Vets min guy (perhaps Jeffries)
J.R. Smith or another Vets min guy
Novak or another 1.8 million guy.
One more non-draftee camp invite

Notice there is no Steve Nash on that list. But there might be a Ray Felton on it.

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