Almost right at the stroke of midnight on July 1, it was announced that Ron Baker would be re-signed by the Knicks by none other than... well, Ron Baker:
Up to this point, it was unknown what Ron would be getting in exchange for a second year of service to the Knicks, but it was assumed it would probably be somewhere in the $1.5 million per year neighborhood (which was equal to Ron’s non-Bird free agent cap hold). Well, we now have numbers, courtesy of Woj:
Restricted free agent Ron Baker's deal to stay with the Knicks: Two-years, $8.9M, including a player option, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 11, 2017
That salary equates to the room exception of approximately $4.5 million, which the Knicks could have used to sign free agents and exceed the salary cap. Instead, with Ron now re-signed, the Knicks are more or less out of non-veteran-minimum cap space:
With the Knicks signing Ron Baker to the full room exception, they have less than $1.5 million in cap space left & still need a veteran PG— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 11, 2017
As Begley stated, this move flies in the face of everything that was rumored about the Knicks this offseason—primarily that they were looking for a veteran point guard to help young Frankie Long Limbs Ntilikina blossom into the beautiful point guard butterfly that he is destined to be.
Instead, the Knicks presumably did a very Knicks-like thing and bid fully against themselves to return the plucky (and completely statistically underwhelming) Baker, giving him a player option for the 2018-19 season to boot.
Here’s my not-so-hot take: this was a stupid move. If Baker’s market was such that any team was willing to give him more than the minimum, let him walk! We’re not talking about a player who profiles as much more than a third-string defensive combo guard, even if he’s delightful as a person and has beautiful, flowing locks.
The Tim Hardaway Jr. contract likely required an overpay to pry him from Atlanta, and he also likely had a number of teams looking at him. That deal arguably made sense for that reason. This deal? This reeks of usual Knick ineptitude, and that’s really quite a shame, considering the restraint that the team showed through its first week or so of free agency post-Phil Jackson.
Anyway, welcome back Ron! I hope you live up to this contract and then some. Let’s talk (nicely) about this in the comments.