I am an African-American male with a Ph.D. and post-doctoral studies in Theology and Philosophy. Contrary to the TAK (Traditional Analysis of Knowledge), I believe that Inspiration is also a source of knowledge, therefore my blog, Provocative Inspiration
In this, the final week of the NBA regular season, the New
York Knicks signed Lamar Odom to a contract running through the 2015 season.
An optimist's view would say that this is the first move of
new team president Phil Jackson, who inevitably and understandably wants to
stick with what he knows best and have his new team play the triangle offense.
A point forward like Odom is integral to this ideology, and suitably difficult
to come by to merit taking on Odom himself as a reclamation project.
Perhaps there is a bit of that involved here. Perhaps the
Knicks really do see a chance for redemption with Odom, a possible contributor
down the road in spite of the complete waste of his last three seasons (and,
based on his brief Spanish stint, additional injury concerns). Odom really was
good when he was good, and if there is a spark in the fire, the Knicks want to
be the ones to throw a log on it. Yet realistically, the timing of the move is
most representative of what is in play here.
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Odom was signed right at the very end of this season, to a
contract running through next season. If he was supposed to help this season,
he would have signed earlier. If he was supposed to help next season, he would
have signed later, unless the Knicks felt they had to secure him early so as to
not be outbid on him, which seems unlikely.
Instead, then, Odom was signed at a time he could be of no
use, so that he was ready to deploy at a time when he could be at his most
useful -- the July free agency period.
By signing Odom to a contract running through the 2015
season, the Knicks are able to trade Odom from the end of the July moratorium.
When they do so, they will be trading an unguaranteed $1,448,490 contract, a
contract which can be used in salary matching deals and waived without reprisal
by the recipient team.
This is a fairly common science, recently also employed by
the New Orleans Pelicans in their signing of Melvin Ely, and recently not
employed by the Cavaliers in their signing of Scotty Hopson. It creates a small
but useful asset from a roster spot and a minimum salary, just as they had done
previously with Shannon Brown (who has an unguaranteed deal for $1.31 million
next year via the same mechanism).
The Knicks have benefited from this process before when they
waived Bill (now Henry) Walker to sign Dan Gadzuric down the stretch of the
2011/12 season, a player who never got the opportunity to contribute
significantly on the court but whose $1.352 million contract became a valuable
centerpiece to that summer's Raymond Felton trade. The Felton trade was
unsuccessful, of course, yet the point remains that it could not likely have
been done without Gadzuric's contract. His contract gave the Knicks an asset
going into that summer, as will Odom's $1.44 million unguaranteed minimum
salary deal. It is not a huge asset, but it is an asset nonetheless, something
of which the Knicks will have scant few.
ODOM WAS SIGNED AT A TIME HE COULD BE OF NO USE, SO THAT HE
WAS READY TO DEPLOY WHEN HE COULD BE AT HIS MOST USEFUL -- THE JULY FREE AGENCY
A well-documented penchant for giving away draft picks,
particularly first round ones, is an easily cited and entirely correct reason
for why the Knicks are short of assets. However, there is more to it than that.
Mid-range contracts, just like first round picks, are fundamental to being able
to complete trades, and the Knicks have almost none of them. They know the
value of these well as they used a package of those things to land Carmelo
Anthonyand Andrea Bargnani, and now they have left themselves with barely any
horses left in the stable. The only mid-range contracts they have belong to
Felton and J.R. Smith - both run through 2016 and are attached to hard work
players (not to be confused with hard working players). These are not desirable
assets, and with a lack of first round picks to placate them, trade assets are
What they do have now, however, is a few outside chances of
rustling up money. In addition to the combined $2.85 million unguaranteed of
Odom and Brown, Kenyon Martin now has early Bird Rights with the team. This
means he can potentially be used Keith Bogans-style in a sign-and-trade deal to
a contract starting at 104.5 percent of the average salary in the previous
season, or about $5.5 million. Assuming he is not signed before then, Kenyon
will surely be complicit in that.
Kenyon Martin/Photo credit: Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports
A big drawback here, though, is that any such sign-and-trade
must see the Knicks finish below the so-called 'apron'. And with their payroll
being as high as it is, this will be hard to do. Furthermore, if they team did
do a sign and trade, the apron (expected to be about $77 million or so) would
then be a hard cap for the remainder of the season, a non-negotiable limit on
payroll expenditure of any kind. New York are so far above the apron that it is
almost impossible to imagine them getting under it without losing Carmelo
Anthony in free agency. Even if they did get under it, it would not by enough
to enjoy the full benefits of doing so, as both usage of the sign-and-trade and
non-taxpayer mid-level exceptions would create this hard cap.
The new CBA deliberately and effectively has restricted the
ability to spend of those it deemed have already spent enough. The Knicks will
likely have no cap room, no Bi-Annual Exception, no ability to sign a smaller
mid-level exception starting at $3.278 million for only up to three years, and
the requirement that incoming salary in trades is limited to a maximum of 125
percent plus $100,000 of the outgoing, and not the more liberal limits enjoyed
by non-taxpayers. With over $92 million committed to 12 players already, luxury
tax seems like a certainty, and thus so do these restrictions. And those
restrictions grossly inhibit the team's ability to improve.
One of the few bright spots, Toure Murry, needs re-signing.
And after signing him to only a one-year minimum salary contract last summer,
New York have put themselves in another Chris Copeland-like situation whereby
they have no Bird Rights and will find it difficult to re-sign him. Moreover,
the roster needs more than just retaining. The decent enough 34-32 finish to
the season does not offset the huge problems within it, the embarrassments
along the way, and the sheer dearth of talent available. The Knicks need a lot
of help without the means to acquire a lot of help.
Carmelo sounds like a guy ready to leave
Tom Ziller •SBNation.com
The summer, of course, hinges on the future of Carmelo
Anthony. If he leaves, it's over, and a rebuild (if such a thing is possible
for a team with so few of its own picks) begins in earnest. If he stays, the
Knicks will be paying $30 million to a 34 year old, which itself is not optimal
but is surely better than the alternative. Tim Hardaway Jr. and whatever is
left of Iman Shumpert's falling star represent the sum total of the 'future',
unless Murry andJeremy Tyler can establish themselves as regular rotation
talents. And that is about it. The contracts of Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson
Chandler expire after next season, which provides much more flexibility next
offseason and/or potentially gives them some trade value as expirings (which
famously do not have the trade value they once did, but nevertheless still have
some), yet this does not solve the many immediate problems.
New York, as ever, will no doubt spend as much as they can.
But they cannot spend very much. Odom helps a little bit, but only a little
bit. It seems likely they haven't enough assets to pull off another
Bargnani-like deal. This, perhaps, is a blessing.
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