The State of the Knicks Salary Cap as of 6/16/15

With the draft a little over a week away and free agency to follow soon after, I figured now would be as good a time as any to restate the Knicks’ current sitution, vis a vis their salary cap (I might re-post this one more time right before free agency begins):

Now that we know where the Knicks are drafting, we officially now also know how much cap room the Knicks will have (based on a $66,500,000 cap. It could be higher than that, but everyone is currently projecting $66.5).

The Knicks’ #4 pick’s cap hold is $3,443,100. The rest of their salaries are 33,272,450.

That’s six players (the #4 pick plus Melo, Calderon, THJ, Cleanthony and Galloway) for a sum of $36,715,550.

However, you also need to take into account the fact that the Knicks have to have cap holds for their remaining six spots. Each cap hold is the minimum, so $525,093 per slot. For every free agent you sign, however, you fill in one of those slots. So for the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume Phil Jackson signs three free agents, so we’ll only have to account for three minimum slots. So it is $525,093 times three, or $1,575,279.

That brings us to $38,290,829. Subtract that from $66,500,000 and the Knicks have roughly:

$28,209,171 to spend on three free agents.

If the Knicks sign less than three free agents with their cap room or more than three free agents with their cap room, here is what they will have in cap room:

$27,684,078 to spend on two free agents.

$28,734,264 to spend on four free agents

$29,259,357 to spend on five free agents

$29,784,450 to spend on six free agents

It is important to note, however, that the Knicks will also have access to the room exception, which is $2,732,000. This is an exception given to teams who use up almost all or all of their cap room (but are not over the cap). It allows them to go over the cap, but only for $2,732,000 for one player (I believe that’s half the current mid-level). So the Knicks can spend the full $27,684,078 on two players and then use the room exception to sign a third player. Some decent players have signed for the room exception the last few years, including Vince Carter with Dallas in 2013 and Josh McRoberts with Charlotte that same year. The last time the Knicks had access to their room exception was in 2011-12 (after they went under the cap to sign Tyson Chandler). They used it in on JR Smith that year.

So if Jackson wants to hand out three mid-size contracts, he has $28,209,171 to work with. If he wants to hand out two big contracts and one room exception contract, he’ll have $27,684,078 to work with on the two big deals.

The Knicks have enough to make one max offer, but not two. They obviously can open up a lot more room if they somehow dump Calderon’s contract (it is kind of funny to note that had they kept Felton and just cut him, they’d have room for two max offers now).

EDITED TO ADD: Just for fun, if the Knicks waived Calderon and used the stretch provision on him, they’d open up roughly a little under $4 million in cap space ($4,380,683 minus the additional $525,093 cap slot they’d be opening up). So in that scenario, they’d have $31,539,668 in cap space for two free agents, almost literally the exact amount of cap room needed for two max offers (for young players with maxes of $15.7 million, of course, like Draymond Green and Greg Monroe, not older maxes of $20 million for players like Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge).

They’d have to pay Calderon roughly $3 million for the next five years, though, but with the cap rising, that’s probably not a huge deal.

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