Steve Nash Rumors Dominate Day 1 of Knicks Free Agency

The first day of true free agency since 2010 did not disappoint. A number of players have already come to verbal agreements with their current clubs (Gerald Wallace with the Nets and Andre Miller with the Nuggets), while others have received offers from new clubs (Rockets offer Omer Asik three year deal worth $25 million and Trailblazers offer Roy Hibbert four year deal worth $58 million). Meanwhile here in New York City, it was all about point guards.

After meeting and receiving a three-year deal worth $36 million, Phoenix Suns free agent Steve Nash met with the KnickerBockers. Marc Stein of ESPN said Nash’s two preferred choices are Toronto or New York, in no certain order. While many have believed the Knicks hopes of landing Nash are a pipedream because of financial limitations, there is a sign and trade scenario that could net the Knicks Nash close to an annual salary of nine million.

The Knicks would send Jerome Jordan ($762,195), Dan Gadzuric (team option of $1,352,181), Toney Douglas ($2,067,880) and Landry Fields (cap hold of $2,695,391) to the Suns. Their collective salaries are $6,877,647 so the Knicks would have to toss in cash in the deal. Nash would then sign a three-year deal worth the neighborhood of $27 million and be traded to New York. According to many in the media, the Knicks presented this idea to Nash.

In this deal, the Knicks would not have to give up their own point guard in Jeremy Lin or the young and promising Iman Shumpert. Also, there are rumors that the Suns are enamored by Landry Fields, a player they targeted in the 2010 NBA Draft before the Knicks nabbed him. In terms of Nash getting less money from New York, if you account Canada’s tax laws, his $12 million salary in Toronto would really be $8.5 million while his $9 million in New York is more like $8.2 million after state taxes.

However, there are complications to the deal. Fields is a restricted free agent, so the Suns could just offer him a deal and see if the Knicks match it. Second, if the heavens above us open and the deal does come to fruition, the teams left with nothing (notably the Raptors and Dallas Mavericks) could turn around and offer Lin a four-year deal worth as much as $40 million. While his salary in the first two years of the deal would be five million annually, the deal could rise to as much as $15 million in each of the last two years. If the Knicks were still to match such a deal, it would leave them with a payroll over $73 million for the 2013-2014 season and $88 million in 2014-2015. The 2013-2014 season is when the new, harsher luxury tax penalties will be in effect.

Here’s what I would do if I were Glen Grunwald (who by the way, has shown in his first year as Knicks GM that he is as smart as they come): if Nash says he wants New York, then you make the deal with Phoenix. Nash would come to New York and heal all of the Knicks offensive problems. Carmelo Anthony would have no alternative but to buy in. Amar’e Stoudemire would get back the point guard who turned him into an All-Star. Jeremy Lin can play in a reserve role while learning from one of the greatest floor generals ever.

As for Lin, if the Raps or Mavs do offer him the “poison pill” deal, you match it anyways. We’re talking about New York City, not New Orleans or Charlotte. Jim Dolan can probably print his own money. The money the Knicks would make off Jeremy Lin could probably pay their own luxury tax bill AND another team’s. And besides, when you’re going for the title (as the Knicks have told free agents so far), you do whatever it takes at no matter the price.