You can read about the details and byproducts of the gigantic new pact between the NBA, ESPN, and Turner here (if that shows up behind a paywall, just google the headline). There are matters to discuss involving broadcast changes, possible expansion, the next lockout, and more, but let's just talk about the Knicks and how much money they have to get good at basketball. Tom Ziller wrote up a nice explanation of the deal's major consequences. Here's what stood out to me:
The salary cap will explode, too. Based on current NBA projections and the new TV deal, basketball-related income in 2016-17 could reach $6.7 billion. If that were the case and benefit costs remained relatively stable, the team salary cap would be about $94 million. For comparison's sake, this season the salary cap is at $63 million.
For a player with at least 10 years of service, like LeBron James, the current starting max salary is 35 percent of the cap, or $22 million. Under the new TV deal, that'd be about $33 million.
Unless the NBA finds a way to smooth out the salary cap leap to come -- which the players' union would have something to say about -- the 2016 free agent market is going to be one insane gold rush. Any player who is a 2015 free agent would be wise to take a one-year deal and get back into the pot in 2016.
I am not smart and I glaze over when I see too many dollar signs, but here's how I understand the above vis a vis the Knicks:
Thing 1: Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' greatest long-term financial commitment by far, just signed a five-year, $124 million deal. That's just below the maximum for a player with 11 years of service and a hair under $25 million per year until 2019, barring early termination. Melo's 2014-2015 salary of $22.9 million constitutes about 36% of this year's salary cap (the Knicks are, of course, approximately $Bargnanistoudemire over the cap).
I've seen salary cap projections lower than Ziller's and math is hard, so let's call the the 2016-2017 salary cap an even $90 million. That season, Melo's $24.6 million salary will comprise about 27% of the salary cap. That's a lot less than 36%!
Now, none of this changes the fact that Melo said he'd take a pay cut and damn near didn't. In present day, he bit almost as much out of the Knicks' salary as he could. Phil Jackson et al still insisted Melo was doing the Knicks a favor, though, and now that potential favor is becoming clear.
Assuming Melo will continue to be an exceedingly good basketball player over the next 5 years (which...you never know), the guy could have set himself up for yet another salary increase by signing a two-year deal like LeBron James and others did. And that was pretty clearly an option at the time, especially with teams other than the Knicks.
Instead, when 2016 rolls around and stars from Melo's draft class are signing contracts of unprecedented huge-assness, Melo will be locked into an old deal that no longer looks so huge-ass by comparison. If he's already breaking down a couple years into his 30s, then he will have done himself a service by committing long-term. If teams still regard 32-year-old Melo as worth over a third of the salary cap, then he will have shorted himself. The Knicks might feel very fortunate in 2016!
Thing 2: The Knicks have a nice chunk of space ready to open in the summer of 2015. They'll have somewhere between $32 million and $41 million on the books, depending on options. We've talked a while about signing a big free agent next summer. As Ziller describes, the great deepening of the pool between 2015 and 2016 will mean a lot of next year's free agents will roll their opportunity over to the following summer. If the Knicks want someone great, odds are they'll have to make a short-term commitment first or just sit tight. Of course, cap space doesn't go anywhere if you don't fill it, but every player and his contract ages a year ("That's what I love about cap space, man. Everyone else keeps getting older, it stays the same age" - Sam Hinkie, probably.), so the Knicks will have to think carefully about when to spend.
All told, this looks like good news to me. The next lockout won't be fun, but if Carmelo Anthony intends to stay great, then it appears the Knicks made a timely commitment to him.
Please correct me if I have misspoken or fill in things I've missed.