Is it safe to assume Melo is going to sign for max? He doesn’t seem like the type of guy to leave money on the table (considering he forced his way out of Denver, and stripped the team he went to of assets) So one option is for the Knicks to pay Melo what will likely be the biggest contract in the league. (Lebron’s max deal will have him making ~3 million less then Melo per season.) I fear this option. I think Melo is overpaid at 20 million, committing 5 years to the numbers below? That’s downright frightening.
I’m a big Knicks fan. I’ve abandoned other sports for Basketball in general. I’ve been a Knicks season ticket holder for 6 years, I go to 15-20 games a year, I watch the rest on TV. I watch NBATV instead of ESPN, and catch any marquee match up throughout the season, and whatever game is on NBATV. I even started watching the Nets to get some extra bball in. My wife has been forced to watch enough basketball that she has a crush on Carmelo. "It’s his baby face."
The caveat to this is I’m a new fan. While I’m a native New Yorker and have rooted for the Knicks my whole life, I got into basketball seriously during the Isiah years. I was fascinated by how bad it was. "this is the worst it’s going to be" I said to myself, "It’s all getting better from here." That was the birth of my passion for the Knicks. Tremendous Upside Potential. Buy low. Etc…
But now… I’m sad. I want some hope, some potential, or let’s go back to underdog status. I don’t want to root for a max contract Melo, playing one side of the ball. I don’t. That has to be one of the least appealing basketball options. He wants to "sacrifice" and take less to make the team better at 20 million a year? Ok, I could live with that. But what’s the plan?
I think we can all agree with Amare and Bargnani on the books for the next two years, there isn’t much room for significant upgrades. You can’t have 20 million of dead weight on your books and expect to compete for a championship, let alone 35 million. On top of that we have two draft picks over the next four years. TWO DRAFT PICKS. The Spurs have 8, The Clippers have 4, the Heat have four picks in 2014 and 8 over the next 4 years. Houston has 12 picks over the next four years. Considering you can’t trade consecutive first round picks, no team has worse draft prospects than the Knicks.
In the rosiest scenarios for this year, Bargnani becomes a net zero. Tyson comes back and plays in 2011-2012 form. Melo, play offense like 2012-2013 but learns a little more defense, Felton and Shumpert break out from their sub-par play and we make it to the playoffs squeak past an aging Nets squad in round one and in the second round promptly get dispatched by Miami or Indiana. Indiana is better than last year and improving. (This considers Chicago never gets it going, or that Knicks get a low seed and get taken out in the first round by one of the aforementioned teams, and it takes a lot of ifs to get us there.)
On top of this Woodson is starting to look pretty bad. Half of being a coach is the X’s and O’s and half is motivating your players. Doc Rivers does both, Gregg Popovich does both, etc… Every New York beat writer uses actually statistics to provide a better blueprint then Woodson can pull off. (Chris Herring, Dan Devine, Alan Hahn) I think Woodson is outmatched with X’s and O’s, and then to top it off his players aren’t exactly busting the butts for him. (The playoff series with Indiana was a great example of bad coaching.)
I do think the Knicks will go on a run, win a few games in a row, sucker us all back in. But there’s a ceiling. There are too many structural issues for this team to be in the top echelon.
So what’s the plan? Restock with free agents? Sign minimum veterans? Amare and Bargnani are untradeable, I’m not sure there’s much of a market for Felton. Does this mean maxing out Melo and having no picks and rebuilding in 2015(with very few draft picks and no young talent? That does not appeal to me. It is not a team I would be eager to follow. Sadly the current discussion is to trade away our few long term assets for some pie in sky scenario of making this team a threat.
So my order of preference is to get something of value for Carmelo (picks please), second choice is re-sign him to a reasonable contract (20 mil * 5year –I could live with that) third is to let him walk for nothing (have a good time in LA), and finally keep him at max. I’m no cap-ologist but I beseech those smarter than I to find some trades that would bring us some youth/draft picks for the Knicks few dwindling tradable assets. Or at the very least calm my panic by offering a viable path the Knicks can take from here forward?
Under the new CBA, draft picks are more valuable and so is that next 5 year contract right after. (see Durant, Westbrook, Wall’s contracts) Good teams hold onto their draft picks.
I leave you with this: Family friend worked for Dolan, here was one of the many gems he’s told my father over the years. Portland was in town, and Paul Allen was there to see the game. After the game Dolan heads down to the locker room to shake hands but Allen’s security detail doesn’t let him in. "Do you know who I am?" Finally Dolan gets some Garden security to vouch for him. At midnight he calls the Garden President (I believe Checketts) and demands that his picture with owner written underneath is placed throughout the arena. Checketts tries to talk him down… "You’ll look like Mussolini." Dolan insisted. So the next morning he’s driving to the arena and calls Checketts, "those pictures better be up." So Dolan comes in sees the pictures, realizes it’s crazy (or just changed his mind) and has them taken down. This is the man that makes the final basketball decisions.
Somebody cheer me up please.