Here’s a new thread as we watch the young ‘Bockers take on the Pistons’ new rookies, Cade Cunningham and Luke Garza and sophomores Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes.
Come on, Wayne Selden!
From Marc Berman:
Maybe Lithuanian combo guard Rokas Jokubaitis won’t turn into a European “stash” pick after all.
After the Knicks’ second Las Vegas summer-league practice, Jokubaitis, selected 34th in last Thursday’s NBA draft, said it’s still an “option” to come this season, though he’d have to be bought out from his Spanish League team.
That club, Barcelona, is allowing the lefty Lithuanian to play three summer-league games for the Knicks.
“Yeah, there is an option,” Jokubaitis said on a Zoom call Friday. “But it will be very, very intriguing thing. I’m into Europe. But if something will go very well plans could be changed, would change. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to summer league and we’ll see how it will go. Right now the plan is to go to Europe, but you never know in basketball, because basketball is a sport where anything can happen.”
I don’t even get this debate. So, Barcelona will let him play three games and if he has somehow proven himself in three games (which is absurd), they’ll let him buy his contract out and the Knicks can sign him to a two-year deal using the room? That doesn’t sound like it makes a whole lot of sense period, no?
But hey, I’ll be looking forward to seeing him play!
By the way, it’s kind of funny how his shitty Olympics has seemed to get a lot of people to sour on Vildoza. Way too small of a sample size, people!
As part of our all-poll content…
New York Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle has agreed to a four-year, $117 million contract extension — elevating his deal’s total value to five years and $140 million, his agents, Aaron Mintz and Steven Heumann of CAA Sports, told ESPN.
The extension includes a player option on the final season in 2025-26.
Randle had a remarkable, breakthrough season for the Knicks, earning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and second-team All-NBA honors on his way to leading the franchise back to the playoffs with a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Randle could’ve waited for his contract to expire next season and signed a new $200 million deal, but extending now off his current $19.8 million salary for 2021-22 gives the Knicks financial flexibility to shape the roster and allows him to commit through his prime to a franchise and city he has come to adore — and one that has come to adore him.
Gotta give Rose a lot of credit for convincing Randle to leave roughly EIGHTY MILLION dollars on the table in this deal. NBA players typically don’t do stuff like this, so while I’m sure part of it is just Randle’s personality (the guy is clearly committed to the Knicks, even to the detriment of his own paycheck), you have to give Rose credit for playing off of Randle’s personality to get him to agree to this way below-market value contract.
Now, of course, if Randle goes back to his 2019-20 level of play, this contract is an overpay, but I think even one season of 2019-20 play after his 2020-21 level of play would still get him the mega-max, just due to the lack of free agents out there who have ever made second-team All-NBA.
Anyhow, very good move by Rose. Now there’s no reason not to lock Mitch up, so go get him an extension!
As part of our all-poll content…
Four-time All-Star guard Kemba Walker has agreed to a contract buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and upon clearing waivers, plans to sign with the New York Knicks, sources tell ESPN.
Well, that‘s good news!
Kemba on likely something around the minimum (I mean, they might give him more, but he’s still getting paid from OKC, so likely not much more) is excellent news. This really turns the Knick offseason around in a major way!
As part of our all-poll content…
Leon Rose has looked at the Knicks’ situation going forward and has decreed, “Eh, this is fine.”
With the $52-54 million in available cap space, Rose decided to bring the band back together again long term.
Last year, during the season, we often discussed one of the problematic aspects of the strong Knick play in the 2020-21 season, which was that a lot of the Knicks’ success was derived from veterans who were going to be free agents and that they all played well enough that they were likely looking at offers of three years on the open market at around the mid-level (which is roughly $10 million), except for MVP vote-getter and Sixth Man of the Year finalist, Derrick Rose, who probably had a slightly higher financial outlook.
We discussed how that was problematic because if you took those guys away and tried to replace them with short-term veterans, the team would likely take a noticeable step back in 2021-22, but if you gave them all market rate deals, you’d be locking yourself into a team that, in the end, was likely more like the #6 seed than the #4 seed (in a full 82-game season, the Knicks likely finish #6) and that was with the Boston Celtics having a bizarrely injury plagued season and the Toronto Raptors also having a snakebit season, as well.
Realistically, just bringing back the same team would likely not get the Knicks back into contention in 2021-22, but it would lock them into contracts that could make it more difficult to improve the team in the future.
That was the concern during the season and we discussed it a lot, that the best case for the team long term might actually be getting nominally worse in 2021-22 to set it up better going forward.
Leon Rose, though, decided to run it back, giving market rate three-year deals to Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Derrick Rose, and replacing Reggie Bullock (the team’s best perimeter defender) with scoring specialist, Evan Fournier, who will make $18 million a year over three years (plus a fourth club option year. Those are always nice).
The Knicks’ current cap space is interesting. They have about $3.5 million left to spend plus the room exception of $5 million. This is because Derrick Rose’s contract likely starts at $13.3 million while his cap hold is a little under $10 million. So the Knicks can spend that $3.5 million and then go over the cap to sign Rose, and then also use the room exception.
That’s not a lot of money, of course, so the significant free agent signings for the Knicks have almost certainly already been made, but it’s something.
There has been some talk about how “tradeable” these contracts are, but as I wrote yesterday, I’m not even saying that you can’t trade Burks at 3 years/$30 million or Noel at similar money or even Fournier at 3 years/$54 million (with a fourth year team option). I am saying that…so what? What good does that do you that you could later trade them? I think we can all agree that if you’re aspiring to be a good team, “Ability to dump player if need be” is not really high on the list of pros about a signing. Now, if the question is “Can you trade them for an even better player?” then I would say, “I don’t believe so, no.” You’re not packaging a bunch of decent older players making market rate for a star.
“Ability to trade for a pick” is a worthwhile pro if you’re the Knicks of two years ago, but now, if Burks is playing well enough for a team to want him, why would the Knicks be trading him? And if he’s playing poorly enough that the Knicks want to trade him, why would any team want him? That’s the problem with signing decent veterans to market value contracts. When they’re joining a good team, it makes sense, because the other star players are the ones who drive the engine, so you can pay Brook Lopez the market rate because you already have Giannis and Middleton (or young teams like the Hawks who added market rate free agents to their impressive young core), but otherwise, you’re unlikely to be building on anything with guys like these signed to long-term, market rate deals.
We’ve already seeing this with Rose trying to change the narrative to this being the Knicks “playing for the 2024 free agency,” which we all know is madness, as no one, Leon Rose included, has any idea who in the world is going to be available in 2024. No one “plans for the free agency in three years” like this. It isn’t a thing. It’s just a platitude designed to give cover for Rose failing at what he first wanted to do with this team (which we now know was to sign Chris Paul to come here, but the Knicks were outbid by Paul’s current team, who could go to a fourth year that the Knicks could not). Clearly, Rose even knew that adding a point guard was a key thing for the Knicks this offseason, but after he didn’t get the one he wanted, he just punted on it (sound familiar?).
Now, with all of this being said, clearly, at the very least, the Knicks have maintained a playoff contender with these moves. If you are a fan who just wants to see the Knicks win enough games to make the playoffs, then these moves are good for you. As noted, they basically brought the band together that was an easy playoff team, so even with the other teams in the Eastern Conference likely improving, this will likely be a playoff team in 2021-22 again.
Plus, there’s always the chance that RJ Barrett or Immanuel Quickley (or even Mitchell Robinson) makes a leap in 2021-22, or perhaps one of the Knick rookies surprises. Or Luca Vildoza comes over and plays like he belongs. There is certainly some upside about the Knicks, it’s just that none of that upside came in the form of the $53 million that they just spent on free agency, and that’s not a good thing.
But if all you really want to see is a Knick team that will be competitive every game and very likely will make it to the playoffs, then these moves do achieve that, as well, and likely will give us a few more years of decent basketball, which is a huge step up from decades of awful basketball.
Now, as part of our all-poll content, I will give two poll options. One glass half-full and the other, half-empty.
Free agency is upon us and there are some rumors, people!
It seems like the Knick are about to bring in Evan Fournier for three-years/$18 million a year.
Beyond that, it’s a big more vague, so I won’t even be doing any polls (which is strange considering our all-poll content) because I just don’t know what is real and what is not so it seems wrong to have polls about stuff that might be BS.
So there will be polls tomorrow! For now, let’s just all react together!
Free agency starts at 6pm tomorrow (in a change from the old days, they’ve recently started to kick it off at a reasonable hour instead of at midnight, because they realized how silly it was to make everyone take midnight meetings just because…what…tradition?), and it’s been quite a long time since the Knicks’ free agency situation was actually kind of interesting, so let’s take a look.
Teams are technically not allowed to sign deals until August 6th at 12:01 PM, but can negotiate and basically agree to deals starting Auguat 2nd at 6pm (teams are allowed to agree in principle with their own free agents before then). The reason for this moratorium is because the league isn’t actually sure about the salary cap figures until August 6th, as they perform an audit during the week. Teams can sign their own draft picks in the moratorium period, plus players can be signed to minimum contracts (plus players can accept qualifying offers). These deals rarely take place during the moratorium, but they are possible. In any event, this is a long way of telling you all that we don’t actually know for absolute certainty what the cap will be. We will know for sure on August 6th. That said, the league gives the teams an idea of what they think the cap will be, and it tends to be pretty darn accurate, so let’s go with the figure that the league told teams recently – $112.4 million.
The maximum initial salary that a free agent can sign for is based on how many years of service they have in the league, 1-6 years, 7-9 years and 10 years plus. They are 25% of the cap, 30% of the cap and 35% of the cap, respectively. Oddly enough, though, the league uses different math to figure out these percentages, so they tend to be less than actual percentages of the cap.
Players with 1-6 years experience can sign an initial contract of $28.1 million
Players with 7-9 years experience can sign an initial contract of $33.7 million
Players with 10 years plus experience can sign an initial contract of $39.3 million.
If a player resigns with their own team, they can sign a deal giving them 8% annual raises, up to five years.
If a player signs with a new team, they can sign a deal giving them 5% annual raises, up to four years.
Certain younger players are eligible for the 7-9 year totals based on special achievements (like making the All-NBA team a couple of times). It doesn’t matter this year, as I don’t believe any of the free agents out there have that apply to them.
Okay, with that out of the way, where do the Knicks currently stand?
The Knicks currently have six players under guaranteed contracts for next season:
Julius Randle – $21,780,000
RJ Barrett – $8,623,920
Kevin Knox – $5,845,978
Obi Toppin – $5,105,160
Immanuel Quickley – $2,210,640
Mitchell Robinson – $1,802,057
They also have Luca Vildoza on a non-guaranteed contract of $3,325,000. Let’s assume that he is making the team, though.
They also have the #25 pick and the #36 pick, Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride.
Since Grimes is a first-round pick, his cap hold is $2,168,760, so you add his money to above totals. McBride, interestingly, though, as a second-rounder, has no cap hold. They can just hold an empty roster space for him, which would be $925,000. The only issue there is if they need to spend more than $925,000 to sign him, then that could be a problem. Most second round picks just take that minimum, but whatever, let’s just say that we have to at least somewhat take into consideration that that could be a slight issue.
The Knicks are also moronically on the hook for $6,431,666 of Joakim Noah dead salary.
Teams also need to have cap holds for up to 12 roster spots and including Grimes and one cap spot held for McBride, that’s still just 9 spots, so do $925,000 three more times.
The whole thing means that the Knicks have about $52 million to spend on free agents.
Of course, they also have a lot of their own free agents.
Here are the cap holds for the Knicks’ free agents. What these numbers mean is that you have to deduct each of them from that $52 million to see how much you can spend on other free agents while still keeping the cap holds for these players. The reason why cap holds are important is because for some players, you can then go over the salary cap once you sign all of the other players by giving the players raises over their cap hold.
For instance, Derrick Rose has a cap hold of $9,987,805 and Reggie Bullock has a cap hold of $5,460,000. Those are important figures because the Knicks have Early Bird Rights for those two players. That means that they can sign them to either 175% of their most recent salary or 5% more than the league average salary (which is around $10,000,000, so let’s just say $10,000,000, okay?).
Rose, therefore, can be given a contract of around $13 million a year for up to four years and Bullock can be given a contract of roughly $10,0000,000 a year for up to four years, but their cap holds would only take up about $15.4 million of cap space, giving the Knicks room to spend $36.5 million on other free agents and then come back to Rose and Bullock.
The cap holds of the other Knicks free agents (Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks) don’t matter, since the Knicks don’t have any special Bird Rights for them (they can sign them for 120% raises, but that’s not significant in this instance).
On top of all that other salary, the Knicks would also have their “room” exception, which becomes available to teams that are under the salary cap but then spend enough to get to the cap. The league allows them to go over the cap via a “room” exception of $4,910,000, that they can spend on anyone they want (they can split up if they’d like).
Soo….yeah, $52 million on free agents plus the room exception or $36.5 million if they keep Rose and Bullock and then also the room exception.
EDITED TO ADD: dhphan wanted me to note that the cap space is even smaller if you consider that the Knicks presumably want to keep a max offer spot open for next season, when the cap is projected to be $115.7 million. Here’s some quick math on the Knick roster, using guys who we presumably think will be on the team next offseason, we’re looking at about $60 million committed to the main young guys currently still on the team (RJ, IQ, Luca, Grimes and McBride) plus $33 million in cap holds for Randle and Mitch (the Knicks have full Bird rights for both and can give them any contract over the cap). So that takes us to about $60 million out of a $115.7 million cap. So presuming you want to keep a 7-9 year max spot open (which will be $34.7 million), then that means you only really have about $21 million that you can spend on multi-year contracts this year before you run into problems with opening up max cap space next offseason.