With the announced signing of Jason Smith, the New York Knick roster currently stands at fourteen players, if you count Cleanthony Early. Fifteen players If you count Thanasis Antetokounmpo; sixteen if you count… and so on.
Of that cast of characters, some old, some not so old, the belief has been not all will be long to remain in the kingdom of Phil; but who?
Beyond the obvious salary dumps or drops… Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani… and the rumored sweeteners… Iman Shumpert and/or Tim Hardaway Jr… possibly used to help proposed salary dumps go down, I see three others who may be early qualifiers for the hit parade: Wayne Ellington, Pablo Prigioni, JR Smith.
Ellington is an obvious choice; a former first rounder, now on his fifth team in six years. He may or may have game; however, the value he brings is in a $2.5mm expiring contract, very useful in helping the numbers fit in a larger deal.
Pablo, may seem an odd choice; other than a periodic hitch in his get along one should expect in a 30+ year old player, he’s performed well in a sour environment. Having written that, he’s at the end of his career, has no connection to Phil-ville and has other teams who think highly of him. I do see him traded to 1) help bring a little value back, and 2) get his $1.7mm dollars for 2015/16 off the books.
JR inclusion may be the most controversial… favorite of a number of fans, seldom a middle ground when it comes to him… but it also may be the most obvious. JR is not a Phil guy and never will. JR’s time in Gotham will end badly if he stays. Rumors have been out for awhile about where JR could end up. Ironic timing (since this write was already in work before the rumor of questionable source came up) two of the most recent locales mentioned are the two making the most sense: Sacramento and Milwaukee.
In Milwaukee, not an exotic locale, they may have the only coach, Jason Kidd, who can manipulate, and cajole the best of JR out of Smith for at least one year. Ersan Ilyasova has been a rumored target. JR has an ugly 15% trade kicker (really whoever negotiated this contract should be fired!!!) though his dollars still would not be enough to match Ilyasova; which is where Ellington may come into play. Selfishly I would also try to steal Nate Wolters from the Bucks in such a deal. He proved last year he is a player, and I am convinced he would really thrive in the Phil-system. Ilyasova looks like a strong system fit and only $400k is guaranteed in his final contract year in 2016/17.
Sacramento, if JR could over his pouting for being shipped there, would be a gold mine for his ego. Smith has always wanted to be a star, but could never get out of his own way. Sacramento fans are the best; they will love him there. Either of the proposed Jason Thompson or Carl Landry would work dollar-wise; though Thompson may be a better fit strategic-wise; he has a 5% trade kicker; but only $2.65mm is guaranteed in his final year in 2016/17.
Players proposed follow a similar pattern; all have contracts ending after 2016/17 season, a couple with only partially guaranteed dollars in their final years. This could mean a couple things. Acquiring any of those players for JR would be a wash, still leaving NY around $20mm in cap space after next season.
Or possibly the prize NY is eyeing becomes available after the 2015/16 season.