Phil Jackson's rebuild of the New York Knicks entered Phase II with the trading of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert for an absence of carbon and more cap room, putting them in position to pursue a max player next summer. But should they? Or are they better off investing in depth?
The only Knicks on the books for 2016 are Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Cleanthony Early. They'll also add a likely top-three pick in the draft; whether that's a big man or a point guard will influence their summer shopping list.
Who's available? How much do these potential targets earn now, and how much might it take to woo them to the Mecca? If you had between $24M and $33M in petty cash, how would you spend it? Here's whom the Knicks could pursue in free agency, along with their salaries this year and the max they can make next year, in millions. 2015 salaries courtesy of basketball-reference.com; 2016 maxes based on figures from Marc Berman and Zach Braziller and cbafaq.com. The max numbers are offered to provide a range of possibilities. Obviously Jamal Crawford isn't going to get $22M next year, nor Jeff Green $18.9. But there are always surprising contract offers made, so it's best to know the possible outer limits:
|Name||Type of free agent||2015 salary||2016 max salary|
|Lebron James||Player option||20.6||22.1|
|Kevin Love||Player option||15.7||18.9|
|Brook Lopez||Player option||15.7||18.9|
|Roy Hibbert||Player option||14.9||18.9|
|Eric Gordon||Player option||14.8||18.9|
|Jeff Green||Player option||9.2||18.9|
|Thaddeus Young||Player option||9.1||18.9|
|Monta Ellis||Player option||8.7||22.1|
|Arron Afflalo||Player option||7.5||18.9|
|Goran Dragic||Player option||7.5||18.9|
|Wilson Chandler||Team option||6.7||18.9|
|Jamal Crawford||Team option||5.4||22.1|
|Timofey Mozgov||Team option||4.6||15.8|
Greg Monroe doesn't work for me. Pairing him with Melo would repeat the errors of redundancy that gave us the Allan Houston/Latrell Sprewell/Glen Rice trio and dud duos like Stephon Marbury/Steve Francis and Melo/Amar'e Stoudemire. Millsap and Melo could go together better than chocolate and peanut butter (peanut M&Ms?), though Millsap will be 30 next summer. A center like Kanter intrigues me: he's still young (22) and he's added three-point range to his game (1 for 3 over his first three seasons; 10 of 31 this year). Carmelo plus spacing equals doubleplus good, so I'd take any of the Greens except Jeff.
Wesley Matthews is a no-brainer, but like Jimmy Butler, competition for Matthews will be steep, and other teams will be able to offer him money and also offer not being a bottom-three team. Brandan Wright seems like he could be a younger, cheaper Tyson Chandler, but I think Phil dumped Chandler because he can't shoot or pass and he wants a center who can. I think (hope?) for the first time in a while, certainly under James Dolan, that the Knicks are more interested in the fit of their moves than their fashionability.
Who do you think fits with whatever Triangle-y thing the Knicks are building? What players/combinations of players would you like to see signed?