Quite a series of stories and potential developments regarding the Melo Choice and the 2014-15 season for the New York Knicks.
I won’t even guess which choice Melo will choose. To me there is no clear choice; which may be why Melo is taking his time and enjoying his foray into major unrestricted free agency. Here though, is how I am seeing things.
The best choice if only it wasn’t there!!!
The clear choice for quality of team and building options continues to be Suns. They have the cap space to add a LeBron and Melo together while not disrupting their rather large core of young players. The fly in the ointment continues to be that the Suns are in Phoenix.
Strong but flawed options…
Chicago, Dallas, and Houston all presented similar options, join an existing playoff team with skilled players in place. Dallas always looked like the weakest of the three; even after trading for Tyson. I am also coming to the belief that Cuban is probably getting in the way of wooing major players to the team.
I’ve felt Houston was the better choice over Chicago in that the team has better depth, better overall health and likely will come away with valued traded player exceptions (TPE) after dumping Asik and Lin for scraps and draft picks. Having written that, I still don’t think that Howard and Harden, especially Harden, are a good fit to play alongside Melo. Like nearly every other star player, they need a veteran to teach them to win; and Houston does not have that in place
Chicago, has the best fit of players for Melo; but their depth is thin and health will always be a major concern when it comes to Noah and Rose. If Chicago’s plan all along was to try to coerce a sign and trade (S&T) with New York, that may have been a flawed plan.
Sometimes it’s good to be the king. I believe Kids Buss are banging their heads against the wall for giving Kobe his Lifetime Achievement Golden Parachute. Giving Kobe the sendoff similar to what they did for Magic Johnson is well enough except for the problem that Magic-era didn’t have a Luxury Tax to account for. If they weren’t the Lakers, no one would have this discussion; but since they are the Lakers, they do a wonderful job gold plating the pig and making it look good.
The Heat is on…
I suppose this will continue to come up until pen is on paper; though I do like the latest "what if thrown against the wall to see if it sticks" where Bosh signs with Houston and Melo magically steps into a max/near max deal alongside LeBron in Miami. The deal fits solid; but Miami would still be a team thin in depth.
It was the best of options, it was the worst of options. Home is where Melo’s heart is; but home continues to be an ugly mess, though less of an ugly mess than is was a couple of weeks back.
Getting Calderon, a $3.6mm TPE and the other players was a nice start.
The latest rumor to trade Iman and Amare to Philly is not likely but is provocative (I see Hinkie giving buddy Morey a helping hand and take Lin’s expiring before helping NY). That deal alone, though does not free up the gates and allow a flood of free agents to enter Gotham. Trading Amare & Iman only gets NY around the cap because of Melo’s cap hold. If unloading Amare’s expiring contract is a second step with two more moves, NY could become immediate players, though not LeBron level.
To chase LeBron, NY would need to do a S&T with Miami. I suppose NY could roll the Amare-optained $25mm TPE to Miami for LeBron; but what else would NY need to offer to sweeten the deal (TPE & Timmy JR?)
NY’s 5 step plan to be major FA players this year
- Trade Tyson and Felton (done)
- Trade Amare and Iman, get no players back (and a convenient $25mm TPE)
- Buyout and Stretch Provision Bargnani (try to trade, not likely). Stretch up to $4mm over the next 3 years
- Trade JR for future pick (and TPE), JR is not a Jackson type of player, never has, never will. Ironically, before the Amare rumor, I envisioned Philly as a good trade partner. In order to step 2 to work JR would need to be traded elsewhere... maybe JR and big brother Ant to Milwaukee for Nate Wolters, who I believe would excel as a Triangle PG; Coach Kidd may be the only coach who can kind of control and make JR look good for one year and the brothers Ant would be together)
- Sign Melo to a five year contract with Year 1 being max dollars (or maybe $20mm) and then Year 2 add the 7.5% maximum reduction allowed in the CBA.
Succeed in those moves and NY in 2014-15 has in the neighborhood of $13mm to spend on FA this year, along with up to ten players already under contract, qualifying exceptions such as likely the MLE and BAE, and multiple TPE to use. $10mm of the available $13mm should be sufficient to sign Pau Gasol to a deal.
In 2015-16 New York would have, based on MLE and BAE players signed in 2014-15, anywhere from $16-18mm (depending on how much Melo signs for). If the BAE is not used in 2014-15, NY could have up to $20mm to spend; which falls well into place for those conspiracy theorists who suggest sign Pau this year only (or year 2 player option) and then sign brother Marc in 2015-16.
If I had to wager a guess, Melo wants to stay in New York, is ready to leave if he’s not sold in Jackson’s true motives; but has the opportunity to wait until the last moment to see how Phil’s scheming turns out.