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January Mailsack pt. 2 - Knick centers, draft hopefuls, and Caribbean refreshment

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Bigs, bigness and beverages are all on the table.

Los Angeles Lakers v New York Knicks Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In part one of this mailbag, we talked Frank Ntilikina versus Jarrett Jack and Batman and Robin versus Atlantic Division two-pieces. Welcome to part two.

  • What if instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul, we just bought him out? TheWhiteMexican and Carmelapplestapz Godzingodthony ask intersecting questions:

“Should the Knicks resign Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott, and at what price?”
“At what point do we have to consider stretching Joakim Noah?”

Say hello to the Knick payroll.

Say hello to the stretch provision section of Larry Coon’s Salary Cap FAQ:

“If a team waives a player between July 1 and August 31, it can stretch the cap hit for that player’s remaining salary over twice the number of years remaining on his contract, plus one...[i]f a team waives a player between September 1 and June 30, the current-year cap hit remains the same, while future-year cap hits can be stretched out over twice the number of years remaining on the contract, plus one.”

If the Knicks waive Noah by August 31st, they’ll owe him $7.6M per season through 2023. If they waive him after, it’s $18.5M next year and $6.4M per through 2022.

I imagine what Enes Kanter does could affect what the Knicks do with Noah. Next year’s salary cap is expected to be around $108M, with 2019’s figure about the same. Unless the NBA awards Jim Dolan a second franchise, Ron Baker’s not going to get a bigger contract offer than the $4M he can opt-into with New York next year. Kyle O’Quinn should and likely will opt-out. The biggest domino is Kanter.

There aren’t a ton of teams with the cap room to offer him anything near what he makes now. Adding the Knicks to the list of prior teams who’ve concluded he can’t be on the floor late in games ups the odds Kanter is trending toward a specialist role and not a starring one. I think he opts-in for one year at dollars he may never see again to continue playing and living somewhere he’s comfortable. If they don’t stretch Noah, they’re spending one-third of their payroll on two centers with glaring weaknesses.

As long as the Knicks are being built around Porzingis, I don’t think they can invest in Kanter as a starter. New York isn’t New Orleans; Porzingis doesn’t present the all-around destructive impact that Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins do, and Kanter isn’t even in the conversation with those three. The Pelican Twin Towers are a way of life. The Knick Twin Towers are sometimes a nice idea, but only in certain times and places, and not late-and-close games.

Going forward, they’d be better served partnering Porzingis with a center who can bang with bigs and dance on the perimeter when required. Kanter’s rebounding complements Porzingis shot-altering nicely, but there are other elements of KP’s game in need of supplementing. The Knicks need a Swiss army knife. Kanter is a sledgehammer.

How the Knicks finish the season will help determine their decision-making. If they win a top-three draft pick, they’re in position to potentially land a franchise player at any of their positions of need — a modern big man to pair with KP, a two-way wing, a playmaking guard. They could stretch Noah, hope Kanter opts-out, and maybe save enough space to bring in Avery Bradley or Nerlens Noel or Marcus Smart. Worth it? God, yes.

They could take advantage of next year being their last year underpaying Porzingis ($5.7M), and treat that as a chaser when swallowing Noah’s $18.5M hit via the second stretch option. That way once KP’s presumed max-extension kicks in, even when/if Kanter opts-in, you’d have him coming off the books right as Noah’s hit falls from $18M to $6.4M. Your 2018-19 bill for Joakanter? $37M. 2019-20? $6M.

As far as McDermott, continuity is generally an advantage in any workplace. If he’s willing to return at reasonable dollars, cool. I’d certainly wait until bigger roster matters were settled before seeing where/if Doug fits. Kyle Korver’s better at McDermott’s role than McDermott’s ever been and Korver’s making $7M for the first time in his 14th season. If the Knicks can keep Doug for around $18M over three years, cool.

  • A potpourri courtesy of DontDrinkFromDaHudson.

Q: “What are your thoughts on universal basic income?”

A:

Q: “Is a two-party political system still viable in the future or do we need more?”

A: A two-party system would be a radical, welcome departure from what we have now.

Q: “Why isn’t there more talk to expand Medicare to cover all children regardless of parent/guardian income or [socioeconomic] status?”

A: Short answer that mistakenly blames individuals: psychic numbing. Longer answer that correctly addresses institutions:

(See also Brown, Jaylen and Hodges, Craig)

Q: “Will there be a coaching change at some point next season?”

A: If you mean 2018-19, I doubt it. If Jeff Hornacek is gonna get fired, it’ll be before next season. Since Red Holzman, the only Knick coaches to start a third full season were Hubie Brown, Pat Riley, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mike D’Antoni, who doesn’t really count since his first two years were tank jobs. That stat astonishes me. Remember it. As atrocious as James Dolan’s ownership has been, he ain’t exactly the Joker defacing works of art.

If the Knicks hire a new coach before then, he or hopefully she probably aren’t getting canned till 2020.

Q: “Should Kristaps Porzingis be a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Stars?”

A:

Q: “Where is Seth?”

A:

  • Forget the best. What about the rest? Prezs2ReprsntMe wonders:

“If New York continues to slide and...the lotto gawds bless us and we have the third pick, but Luka Doncic and Deandre Ayton are off the table…who you picking?”

(This from the guy who wanted D’Angelo Russell in 2015 and Jonathan Isaac last year, for what it’s worth...)

  • GAx asks:

“Do you ever see Porzingis as a full-time center?”

Kristaps Porzingis played a little center his rookie year. Since then, he’s played less and less.

Pretty clear trend, huh? Porzingis has said he’d rather not play center. The Knicks don’t appear interesting in asking him to; while that reticence appears to predate last spring’s end-of-year unpleasantness between the two sides, the team may be less willing or even unwilling to broach an unpopular topic with a star they’re still waiting to hear say “I do” and commit long-term.

Once KP starts making $25M a year, the honeymoon’s over. He’ll get heat for the first disappointing season after his new deal kicks in, the Knicks will hire a new coach who’ll talk about everything being on the table, and then and only then can I begin to envision Porzingis at center. Even then, there’s the question of whether KP will ever have the strength or genetic capacity to endure 75+ games a year banging down low against stronger players every night.

Life comes at you fast, though. Careers seem destined to take a certain shape, then new wrinkles and raised stakes rewrite history.

For nine seasons Kevin Durant was a scoring small forward. A brilliant, localized weapon. Now he’s a modern two-way terror of a big, a legit DPOY candidate. He is become Death, destroyer of both ends of the floor.

Teammates change. Roles change. Attitudes change. Maybe Porzingis goes back and forth over time. Sometimes attitudes change, change again, then change back again. Carmelo Anthony’s positional history is that of a man who sees the light, then forgets for a while, only to remember again.

First let’s see Porzingis put together some healthy seasons as a four. Then we can look into bumping up his weight class.

  • Last on the list but first in my heart, care of DontDrinkFromDaHudson:

“Malta India or Goya?”

When I’m in New York, Goya. All day. When I’m somewhere hot, like Florida or Puerto Rico, Malta India takes on a distinct appeal. Got a bottle of each in my fridge. Gonna drive to my bodega, pick up a plate of arroz y habichuelas y pernil y planatos and enjoy the taste of not having to choose between what I like. Just gonna have it all.

That’s all for this mailsack. Be kind when you can, kids.