Opting Out a Pipe Dream
In today’s Newsday, Alan Hahn wrote a column on how D’Antoni’s up-tempo system could help New York rid itself of a few big contracts. This theory is that a faster pace will make the players’ statistics inflated hence giving them a higher value. In order to get under the cap, the Knicks will have to move a few key contracts for ones of the same amount but less years. The prevailing thought is that the players that would hurt salary cap would be dumped for expiring contracts so that they can make a play in free agency.
However Hahn brings a different spin to the table, he suggests that Crawford, Curry, and Richardson might opt out of their contract because they would garner more on the open market. According to Hoopshype, Crawford and Richardson could forgo $9M in 2010 to become free agents a year early. Meanwhile Curry has the option to leave in the summer of 2009 in lieu of $10M or the summer of 2010 instead of earning $11M.
It’s feasible that Jamal Crawford could get a long term offer for that much, as he would only be 29 and many teams could use a shooting guard that can score. But I can’t imagine any NBA team offering Eddy Curry enough to tear up his current contract. Even if you put aside that Curry is a one trick pony with major flaws, his heart issues make him a major risk. And the odds that Quentin Richardson could earn $9M for a year of playing basketball is on par with the chance that Dick Cheney could win American Idol.
The problem with Hahn’s logic is that these players would have to fetch more on the open market than their final payment for the move to make sense. For instance let’s assume Eddy Curry is really worth $7M a year. In this case Curry wouldn’t opt out his deal, because he’d earn more by staying with New York until 2011 and signing a 3 year deal ($22M + $18M = $40M) than he would if he opted out & signed a 5 year deal ($35M). This isn’t to say that the Knicks will be stuck with these players until 2010, but trading them is a more feasible option. A team might deem it worthy to have the services of Curry, Richardson, or Crawford for a year or two, especially if it would come at the price of an expiring contract that doesn’t fit their team construct. Additionally one of the less palatable players (Richardson) could be moved with a valued commodity (like a young player or draft pick).
But I think hoping that Curry or Richardson get offers that make it worth leaving money on the table is highly improbable. If the Knicks want to shed themselves of these deals, they’re going to need to make an effort to move them.