Just a couple weeks ago, Jason Kidd came out and shocked everyone with news that he planned to retired. He is 40, so that wasn’t too alarming, but what surprised everyone was his decision to leave $6 million on the table.
Well, quickly after retiring, news began to surface that Jason Kidd was quite interesting in interviewing for the head coaching position of the Brooklyn Nets. Personally, I think like many others, I didn’t take this too seriously, but, hey, he interviewed. News then trickled out that the Nets were very impressed with his confidence and that Kidd was the front runner for the job.
After a four hour meeting with Brian Shaw yesterday – Kidd’s competition – news leaked that the Nets were going to indeed hire Jason Kidd as their head coach.
Today, thanks to Peter Vescey, we’ve learned that Jason Kidd will make $7.5 million over three years, with a $3 million option for a fourth year. After hearing this, it makes a lot more sense as to why he, happily, retired and left $6 million on the table.
I haven’t decided if I think Jason Kidd will be a good head coach, but I have decided that he’ll be an interesting one. People aren’t shocked by the news of his hiring because they don’t think he has the skill, but, rather, because it’s difficult to go from being the players’ peer to coach, in a little under a month.
I look forward to seeing all he brings to the Nets.
The New York Knicks head into this offseason with a conundrum on their hands. They need help on both ends of the floor. Now, who’s to say that help is not already within grasp for them? Yes, Amar’e Stoudemires $100mm pay day ties Glen Grunwald’s hands behind his back financially and gives the Knicks very little wiggle room for major improvement or monetary space. And with a pick right at the heart of the NBA draft, the Knicks could very well strike gold, as well as blow their pick.
However, don’t be alarmed– there is help in the wings—and that help may ultimately be Iman Shumpert.
Iman, being a natural two-way player, already has the necessary tools to become a great player in this league. His natural size and athleticism allow him to be an above average defender (who will only get better over time), and room to grow on the offensive end; this is where the Knicks really could use a shot in the arm. Shumpert was not really the gold standard of consistency as a legitimate second-option for New York this past season, but let’s take into account the seriousness of his inury, and that it was only his second year in the league (Shump will be 23 in 22 days). He’s still young, and his potential could still greatly be untapped.
Here’s where I see Iman Shumpert being utilized next season; He can already defend multiple postions, preferably guards, but we saw him do an exceptional job on forwards in the playoffs, such as Paul Pierce. Then, as an aggressor on offense, which we have seen flashes of throughout the season, and especially in the playoffs. He will have more ball handling duties, and be called upon more to create for others, along with himself. Right there, you are banking on three of the Knicks’ four holes that are utmost important, perimeter D, shot creators, and ball movement. The fourth being a tough, rebounding, YOUNG big man, incase you were wondering.
All these responsibilities may be quite much to ask out of a third year man, but Iman is embracing the opportunity to get better, and this may be the motivation he needs.
As he labeled the season a failure in his exit interview, Shumpert also told reporters he is hoping to make an appearance in Las Vegas in the Knicks summer league.
Having a full summer to work on your game can pay off greatly. Despite the injuries, look at how improved Amar’e Soudemire came into training camp on the block after working with Hakeem Olajuwon.
On top of everything, the guy has heart and determination. Iman is well aware becoming great will not happen over night.
So how important is this to the Knicks right now, and the situation they find themselves in? I say pretty damn important. With finances not agreeing, you have to believe Shumpert’s role next season will be bigger, and I’m confident he answers the bell.
Firstly, in Shumpert’s 45 starts this season, the Knicks went 30-15 when he starts a game. This gave the Knicks a decent spot-up shooter on the weakside to compliment Carmelo Anthony, while being assigned to guard any offensive-minded player from the one, to the three. Building on this, Shumpert rose from a 30% three-point shooter in 2012 to a 40% shooter this year. In the playoffs, he took another step forward and booted up to 42%. The Knicks offensive rating was actually 97.9 in the playoffs when Iman Shumpert was not on the court. They sported a 104.8 rating when he was.
This isn’t to say Iman is the savior on offense, because we all know this is Carmelo Anthony’s show on offense, but it shows how well Shumpert can nicely compliment the offense when given the chance.
Aside from the shooting, it’s tough to judge the effect of Shumpert’s penetration last season, as there were times when he could be rather passive and not even touch the ball sometimes. This should be where Iman places most of his focus this offseason when pertaining to offense. The Knicks look like a well-oiled machine when someone in breaking down the defense constantly, allowing more looks for all the shooters the Knicks trot out. The only problem is, this was not consistent enough. Raymond Felton sort of disappeared when he was needed to run an offense (Indiana series), and JR Smith couldn’t maintain his stellar play consistently enough to be a formidable inside-out threat. Iman Shumpert attempted 89 layups to 270 jump shots this season.
Let’s do some role reversal there.
No way Iman is more effective floating on the perimeter than he could be taking it to the hole, especially when you shoot 78% from the stripe. Of course, his jump shot will get better over time, but when he needs a bucket to get going, or a good shot, you’re going to the basket, and the quickness of Shumpert will help him thrive there.
Is it only coincidence that the Knicks need more aggressors on offense, and that’s what Iman Shumpert could bring to the table next season? I think not. Donnie Walsh knew what he was doing when drafting Shumpert. Anthony needs someone else who can put pressure on opposing defenses. No disrespect to JR Smith, who was that guy this season, he just doesn’t bring the consistency needed, or the work ethic. The summer league should be fun to watch, as we see how well Iman Shumpert can run a team. Coming back in the fall, Shump will be extremely important in what the Knicks want to do. He adds a dimension they need consistently. As we all saw in the playoffs, Shumpert could very well be that guy, and his importance to this team does not go unnoticed over here.
It’s been fun, all.
This afternoon, I’m happy to give you all the first look at the Jordan Brand Melo M9 Puerto Rico Day colorway. Although the Knicks’ season is over, due to an unfortunate second round loss, Jordan Brand and Carmelo Anthony are still releasing some good-looking sneakers. In my opinion, the M9 has been the best Melo shoe to date, and this PR Day colorway is no exception. The shoe boasts two primary colors: a vibrant red and a royal blue, both paying homage to Puerto Rico.
The shoe’s upper is fitted with a carbon fiber looking pattern, in the vibrant red, while the toe box is made up of a shinier red. Like all other M9s, the upper has the signature flywire weaving in and out of the shoe’s exposed openings.
Complimenting the vibrant colors, the shoe’s sole is clear, leaving the eyes to focus on the other elements of the shoe.
While the shoe pops as is, one of the greatest design elements of the shoe, in my opinion, is the lining. As you can see from the photos of the insoles, the shoe is fitted with a blue and white pattern that feels almost tribal-like.
All in all, this is one of my favorite M9s to date.
The shoe will be releasing on June 6th with a price tage of $140, with the official colorway being University Red/White/Game Royal. Thoughts?
The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers are making the New York Knicks look bad, and it’s not fair or fun. The Knicks have been on summer vacation for about two weeks now and I’m still a bit petulant about the whole thing. The Knicks were supposed to reach the Conference Finals, sweep the Heat and then win the NBA championship; that was the plan. And now, what – a series of exciting, passionate basketball between two highly functioning teams is tied at 2-2? Yuck.
Since the Pacers eliminated the Knicks, I’ve debated with myself over who to root for. I, like many Knicks fans, despise both teams due to both historical and current precedents. Both the Pacers and Heat have shared moments in the spotlight eliminating the biggest market team in front of millions of national viewers. As an overall NBA fan, though, extending beyond rooting for the Knicks, I find it hard to just watch a series without pulling for a certain team. The problem is, however, that rooting for either of these teams feels like choosing between Freddy or Jason (Freddy), Oreo cookie versus cream (cream), velociraptors or a T-Rex (raptor).
The following breakdown may put you a bit more at ease in deciding who to root for and why:
Why We Should Root for: Indiana Pacers
- The Indiana Pacers are the underdogs, plain and simple. This season was the first year in the Miami Heat’s convergence that they finished with the #1 overall seed. However, despite finishing second in the East the previous two teams, they’re the only team to make it out of the East since they spawned their Big 3 in 2010. The Indiana Pacers, meanwhile, have worked hard to become merely a top four team in the Eastern Conference, and now, minus three big superstars, are pushing the Heat to their limits.
- “Built Not Bought.” Such is the claim of many Pacers fans. Whereas the Miami Heat have formed their core through the free agent signings of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, plus surrounding signings of Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Chris Andersen, etc., the Pacers have built their team through the Draft and through trades. Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Granger (a non-factor this year) were all drafted. Meanwhile, George Hill was acquired in a draft-and-trade in 2011, and their biggest free agent signings have been David West and DJ Augustin. This Pacers team is as home-grown as the wheat that flanks the flat-lands of the state. (Does Indiana actually grow wheat? *shrug*).
- Nitty, gritty, dirty defense. Yeah, the Miami Heat play defense, but not the way these Pacers do. The Pacers suffocate the perimeter, deny open shots, grant inefficient ones, and jam the paint. It’s really tough to the beat these Pacers unless a player or two becomes unreasonable hot and knocks down every open deep two or mid-range jumper granted to him. The Pacers don’t like when players try to score at the rim, and they’re not afraid to clobber a player that threatens their elite defense. For all of the ’90s Knicks fans out there, the Pacer’s rough-and-tough style should evoke fond memories of the Knicks of yesteryears.
- “I’m bored of the Heat!” Me too, pal! El Heat have been to the championship the last two years and they won the darn trophy last season! This story was interesting for a little while, but by Season Three, the writers need to mix it up.
- ‘They beat us!’ Technically, the Pacers pulled off the upset over our Knicks. If the Knicks are going to lose to a team, it should be the eventual Eastern Conference champions, no? After all, nobody likes to say, “It was a good season! We just lost to the team that lost to the team that won the Eastern Conference!” No. We want to believe we lost to the best team in the conference.
Why We Should Root For: Miami Heat
- “Those yellow jerks just beat us!” Yup, while it’d be nice to say the Knicks were eliminated by the best team in the East, it also feels wrong to cheer for the Knicks’ assassins. Why should I wish them success after they so rudely denied ours?
- The Miami Heat don’t have Lance Stephenson. Seriously, have you ever watched that guy? Blech. Stephenson is an exciting, talented, young player, but he just makes the blood boil. He looks like a stockier version of Chris Bosh — part raptor, part fish — with eyes that look like he’d steal the remote and change the channel while you were up getting some cheese and crackers! His Game 6 performance against the Knicks was astounding and befuddling and infuriating all at the same time. He celebrates baskets like they’re each his 100th point of the game. Go sit the next few plays out, would ya, Lance?
- The Heat are more fun! They play faster, they shoot better, and they have these two upcoming stars on the team that are quite fun to watch. Lebanon James and Dwight Wane. Seriously, look out for these fellas – they’re on the rise! Sure, the Indiana Pacers play such efficient, old-school basketball that snobs have to like ‘em, right? Yeah, while you’re smoking that wooden pipe and listening to cassette tapes, grandpa, I’m going to root for the basketball revolution that is the Heatz.
- The Heat are so detestable that it makes it fun to root against them. Their star power is a draw to the screen, and they make any team they face look like the protagonists. Imagine the evil Heatles playing the cute, old San Antonio Spurs for all of the marbles. Nice try, Miami, but I’m rooting for Tim DUNKIN’ and Manu EURO-STEP-nobili and TOO-QUICK Tony Parker!
We should root for… well, it looks like the Pacers because I have five bullet points to the Heat’s four. But WAIT! *record scratch* Here’s why we shouldn’t root for either:
- The Heat and Pacers stink and I don’t like them and they’re playing longer than the Knicks! BOOO!
- I’m rooting for the Spurs either way
- Here’s a Pablo Prigioni mix:
Last night, at 21 Mercer, Nike released a limited shoe to honor all that is Rasheed Wallace. Infamous for wearing Hi-Top Air Force 1s, it was only natural for Nike to release the Rasheed Wallace Hi-Top Lunar Force 1s, a modern take on the all-time classic.
The silhouette is quite similar, sans the ankle-strap that Sheed chose to wear velctro’d behind the heel, to the familiar AF1s. The upper of the shoe is made with new, light fabrics, utilizing Nike Hyperfuse to allow for the shoe to breathe, while the sole is made up of Nike’s ultra-comfortable lunar sole.
The shoe released in two colorways, a white/blue/orange look and a black/blue/orange look, both limited to 100 pairs.
Right before pairs were purchased, Rasheed Wallace made a special appearance at 21 Mercer and welcomed the crowd with a Q&A. While, of course, most of the content was centered around the shoes, some other fun Sheed quotes were tossed out, too.
First off, he loved New York.
“I hear the two-cents from everyone on the street – you know, the you gotta do this, you gotta do that, tell Mike Woodson he gotta do this.”
That quote touched on exactly what makes playing professional sports in New York City both so exciting and so nerve-wracking; everyone cares and has a genuine opinion.
His three developed out of necessity, as when he was in Portland, he had to shoot, as he was the most athletic out of the bunch. However, against the Lakers, Glen Rice, “tore my ass up… I’m not even gonna lie… he torched me. He torched me.”
As Wallace grew older, his game had to change. With that said, Sheed become one of the most prolific power-forwards in all of the NBA, and one of the reasons was due to his astounding post-moves. What’s his favorite move, you ask?
Well, despite not using it too much, Sheed said that he favored the, “only move in basketball history that is unstoppable… the sky-hook. I don’t care if you’re 6’10″ going against a guy 7’3″, it’s unstoppable.”
Wallace was asked about who he thought were the top three players to watch in the NBA right now. While he originally avoided the question, he ended up answering it with some fun players.
However, his response started off with some reasoning behind why he enjoyed watching college ball more:
“To be honest, I watch more college ball. In college they go more hard. In college they’re fighting for a future, while us NBA guys are fighting for a paycheck.”
“For NBA guys, I like Paul George… I think J.R. Smith… Zach Randolph, Jermaine O’Neal, Jason Maxiell.”
Gotta love that group of players he mentioned. If any player were to include J.R. Smith and Zach Randolph on their top five list of players, it could only be Rasheed Wallace.
Finally, Wallace gave the crowd the true reason he’s been balling out in AF1s all these years, even after sneakers with more advanced technology have released:
“I always liked playing in Air Force 1s, as it always protected my ankle… being a high flyer – in my younger days – coming down on someone’s foot always hurt my ankle… Air Force 1 is a true high-top.”
All in all, it was a fun event, hosted by a great player, highlighting a new take on a historic shoe.
After the Knicks were eliminated by the Pacers in the second round of the playoffs, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the bleak future faced by this team. To be fair, there are plenty of reasons for concern.
- The team is old, the oldest in the league. The team was beset by injuries this season and most of the injury issues should get worse, not better, due to the team’s advanced age. Most of the team’s players are on the downside of their careers, we shouldn’t expect better results from players past their prime.
- The team is facing major salary cap restraints. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire have massive contracts and they aren’t going anywhere. The Knicks’ ability to improve through free agency or sign and trades is almost zero.
- Not only are the Knicks stuck with a hard to improve roster, but there are younger, better, still improving teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference pecking order. Based on this season, there is every reason to believe the Heat, the Pacers and probably the Bulls (especially with Derrick Rose) are better than the Knicks. In addition, all three teams are younger than the Knicks and can expect more of an upward trajectory. To make matters worse, the Knicks have to be looking over their shoulders at the Nets and the Hawks, who could easily be tougher opponents next season.
Yet, it’s too soon to pack it in and write off the Knicks for next season. For one thing, the Knicks will return the same coach and the same core of players that just won the Atlantic Division for the first time in almost 20 years and advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. These are not small accomplishments for a franchise that has spent so many years mired in losing and horrible decisions.
This was Mike Woodson’s first full season at head coach and the first year in his rotation for many members of the team. Another full training camp could be a huge boost for smoothing out the wrinkles in his system and further acclimating the players to it. Let’s take a look at what we can expect from the roster:
The Core Four
Carmelo Anthony- Almost every team that makes it to the NBA Finals has a superstar and Melo is ours. He will only be 29 next season and he’s coming of a scoring title and the best season of his career. His stats appear to be trending upward: his scoring improved by six points a game this season, his rebounding increased, his foul shooting improved and his three point shooting accuracy was a career high 38%, despite attempting 414 threes, almost twice his previous career high. If Melo learns how to work his scoring into the framework of the team’s offensive flow better and ups his intensity on the defensive end a bit, he might help the Knicks even more next season.
Tyson Chandler- Unlike Melo, Chandler may be starting the downside of his career. He’ll be 31 next season and he spent much of this season battling back issues. He certainly won’t be washed up though. He made his first all-star team this year and he won’t be playing in the Olympics this off season, so hopefully he’ll enter next season in top health. A fourth straight season of double digit scoring, double digit rebounding and a field goal percentage well over 60% should be quite reasonable. Add to that his first team all NBA defensive skills and the Knicks have something few teams have: a top tier center.
Raymond Felton- Another player entering the prime age of 29, Felton is coming off a season which saw dramatic improvements over his previous one. Higher scoring, higher FG% and better three point shooting were all a part of his return to the Big Apple. His importance to the team was never clearer than in the playoffs, where his scoring and FG% were even higher than the regular season. Unfortunately, none of the other point guards on the roster this season were able to duplicate Raymond’s ability to run the pick and roll, drive and dish, plus drive and score. Finding a young backup point guard will be one of many priorities for NY in the off season.
Iman Shumpert- The youngest member of the core four, Shump also has the biggest upside. Next season he will only be 23 and he’s already shown flashes of greatness. Being able to start the season healthy may give him the chance to realize the potential he’s shown to be an all-defensive team member. If he can combine his 40% shooting from behind the arc with an ability to attack the basket from off the dribble, he should develop into a major force on the offensive end as well. If JR Smith walks, the pressure will be on Shumpert to be the Knicks main scoring option besides Melo, STAT and Felton.
Also under contract and not going anywhere
Amare Stoudemire- He may have less impact on the court than the core four, but he’s the biggest anchor on the team’s finances. Even in the case of this soon to be 31 year-old with a history of major injuries there is an upside though. While never much of a contributor on the defensive end, he seems to be getting even better at the thing he does do well: score in the paint. This season he averaged 14 points a game in only 23 minutes a game while shooting the second best percentage of his career: 58%. Working with Hakeem Olajuwon seems to be helping his low post game and another off season working with the Dream can only help. In addition, STAT enters the off season healthy. If he can make it through an entire training camp and preseason healthy we may finally get to see what it’s like when Woody has had a chance to fully integrate STAT into his system.
Steve Novak- The New York offense is predicated on shooting threes, lots of them, which makes someone that shoots over 42% from deep have value. Unfortunately though, that’s pretty much all he does well and by the end of the season he had been almost completely dropped from Coach Woodson’s rotation.
Under contract, but really old
Jason Kidd- There can be no doubt that Jason Kidd brought lots to the table this season, but there has to be some question about how much he can bring to the table next season at the age of 40, if decides to return. Not surprisingly this season he posted the lowest scoring and assist numbers of his career, while demonstrating an almost complete inability to score at the rim. Despite averaging a career low in minutes per game, many place blame for his catastrophic showing in the playoffs on overuse on his aging and aching body during the regular season. At this point New York might be better off using Kidd as an assistant coach that they return to the court as a player only about a month before the playoffs.
Marcus Camby- Boy did this acquisition look bad this season. The 39 year old center only appeared in 24 games, he only averaged 10 minutes a game and he had almost no impact statistically in those games, though there were a few flashes of good interior defense. The combination of age and injury makes the idea of him trying to play out his contract almost unpalatable.
It would be really nice if we could find a way to retain them
Chris Copeland- While it’s clear that another year of NBA seasoning should do wonders for Cope, he showed signs of being a major offensive contributor as a 28 year old rookie. Not only did he shoot 42% from three during the regular season, he shot 48% from behind the arc during the playoffs, while most of his teammates seemed completely unable to hit from deep. Unfortunately for the cap restricted Knicks, he may have priced himself off the team with his play, though Glen Grunwald has been quoted as saying that New York may use the mini mid-level exception to keep him on board.
JR Smith- The sixth man of the year is a big reason for the Knicks improvement this season and it would be a major blow to lose him. New York has the early Bird rights to him and he has claimed that he wants to stay, so let’s hope Grunwald can find a way to get a deal done. Like Anthony, Smith had the best season of his career and there is reason to believe that we still haven’t seen the best yet.
Melo, STAT, Smith, Copeland, Felton, Novak, Chandler and Shumpert are all 31 or younger, so if New York can start the season with all eight of them under contract and healthy, they not only will have a great core to build around, they will have the same core of players as the previous season, giving them some consistency. Not only should we not start giving away our Atlantic Division title, but it might be reasonable to hope we can win even more games next season. The two biggest holes that will need to be addressed if we can retain Copeland and Smith (a big and important if) would seem to be at point guard and center. We will need someone to fill Kenyon Martin’s shoes as a backup center and not only will we need a second point guard for the starting lineup ala Jason Kidd or Pablo Prigioni, but we’ll need someone coming off the bench that can somewhat duplicate Raymond Felton’s role in the offense.
So, sure, it was disappointing watching the team implode against the Pacers, but that certainly doesn’t invalidate a terrific season. The team may be old and financially limited, but that’s what they said this season and look what happened. Let’s wait and see what Grunwald can pull off this offseason before we start to panic too much.
Since this March, Richard “Treats” Dryden became a Knicks Wall contributor focusing on sneaker trends. To close the book on the Knicks’ most proud post-season effort—since he first experienced the 1994 playoff series against the Indiana Pacers—Treats profiles the other treasures in his collection of NYK gear.
I stopped noticing that I was wearing my Carmelo Anthony jersey almost an hour after the Knicks lost Game 6 of the NBA Semi-Conference Finals. Putting on Number 7 in the home colors: white, orange, blue and a touch of silver became a conscious thought when I packed the uniform as a change of clothes. It just felt comfortable. It’s a size XL, too long though, even with my height. The jersey has to be the basketball equivalent of a tall tee. Didn’t A$AP Rocky kinda make those cool again? Walking through the Lower East Side with my family en route to the annual New York City Type-Off was easy in my noticeable attire. Car horns weren’t blaring at the sight of me, in support of New York’s do-or-die game in Indiana. No pedestrians making small talk about what singer Rihanna recently had to say about J.R. Smith hanging out late at a nightclub.
In the media capital of the world, there is no fourth wall between athletes. New Yorkers, whether or not they’re fans of the Knicks feel the need to comment on their affairs just to be apart of the conversation. It’s like talking about the weather. Most recently, the weather in NY has been unpredictable with the climate shuffling between orange and blue skies and grey clouds daily. So, there’s always something to talk about. Wearing any Knick player’s number, you take on a hailstorm of controversy. It’s that level of self-consciousness that fans like myself carry on their shoulder; this chip that has no relationship to the other chip—a championship.
Pride has new meaning as Knick fan. An Internet photo meme was passed around this season during the height of the Knicks 54-win season providing perspective of the past and present. The photo, split into four quadrants showed four periods of New York Basketball with a profound quote. “If you wasn’t down since these guys (Patrick Ewing and John Starks), supported these guys (Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston), suffered during these guys (Stephon Marbury and Eddie Curry), don’t start cheering for these guys (Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith).”
The cashier lady at my local supermarket—granted she’s older than me—probably has wisdom of those light and dark days of the Knicks. It didn’t stop her from badgering Carmelo Anthony as if he was the bane of the team’s existence; championing Amar’e Stoudemire as the best asset to the Knicks. My team unity supported STAT’s contribution to the team, but the reality is that his ship has sailed. His rhythm on the court just isn’t there. His God forsaken spin move is so predictable when he comes into the lane, it’s easy pickings for any defender, or a traveling violation. That’s why Carmelo is in the driver’s seat. Like him or hot, without Melo, the Knicks would not have made it this far to Game 6.
My tax guy at the Cobble Hill H&R Block has a soft spot for the Knicks. An elder man, old enough to be my abuelo saw the Knicks win their second NBA title in 1973. He knows what the light at the end of the tunnel looks like. Maybe that’s why he had a glimmer in his eye worthy of precipitating a tear. I’ll never forget that look.
Last summer, I spent the most money I had ever spent in my life on an article of clothing when I purchased Spike Lee’s Knicks-inspired hoodie. He held a sample sale at the 40 Acres and a Mule store in Fort Greene, Brooklyn where he was also promoting his film, Red Hook Summer. Merchandise from all his other films was for sale: embroidered patches from Malcolm X and School Daze, T-shirts from She Hate Me and Crooklyn. Much of it was actually sold out in the end. Then on a special rack hung Spike’s custom gear like a Nike Destroyer jacket in the purple and white colors of the Gamma fraternity from School Daze and a Nike hoody beautifully decorated like it was made for the captain of the New York Knickerbockers. In fact it was. A blue patch for “40″ and an orange “A” branded the hoodie with Spike’s 40 Acres and a Mule production company. 7 gold (plated?) pins adorn the patches: an MVP pin, a basketball, a treble clef, a star, a bullhorn, and two that read “No. 1″ and “Cap_t.,” are the medals earned by the unofficial floor general of the team. The back also has “The Republic of Brooklyn” screen printed on it. The detail makes it worth every cent as much as the sentimental value that it belonged to one of the greatest directors of all time. To that end, wearing it throughout the season made me feel like I was court side at Madison Square Garden.
My boo and I made a weekend out of going to Atlantic City to see Diplo, then capped it off with Knicks playing their last game of the regular season against the Brooklyn Nets. It was my plan that afternoon to wear the Carmelo Anthony jersey I got for Christmas to the game, but I forgot it at home. Nor did I have the Spike hoody with me either. I felt naked without proper Knick regalia to cheer them on. During half-time I hit the gift shop for something I could use to show my team pride as I was flanked by Nets fans in my section. So I bought a scarf. Cold weather lasted long until at least early April, making it practical to wear during the feeling of a winter blast. It resembled those high quality scarves soccer fans wear or wave in allegiance like a flag. Adidas makes this one. It reminds me a lot of the David Beckham Real Madrid scarf that I bought hours before Real Madrid C.F. won La Liga against Barcelona in 2007. I did not get to bask in a Knick victory the way I did for Madrid. Witnessing a loss at The Garden has become a weird tradition for me. I don’t actually remember ever seeing the Knicks win when I was in attendance. I’ve been privileged to be able to afford a ticket or go with someone as their guest. Personally, I’d rather watch at home just to rule out my superstition.
This weekend, I’ll get around to watching the Knicks exit interviews along with the opinion of sports analysts on what went right and wrong this season. The recaps were too much to bear on Saturday night. Sure, I’m happy the Knicks made it this far. I’ll take this team over any squad coached by Isaiah Thomas or Larry Brown. Between last season and this one, I have memories of each game with friends and family that I’ll hold dear. Ones that I’ll share with my son when he’s old enough to crunch the minutia of the Knicks. For now, I need to thank NYK for giving me those moments. I’m forever proud to call them New York’s home team.
J.R. Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. No, I’m not kidding, even though he did have an absolutely horrendous playoff run.
At one point in the season, it appeared that there was almost no chance that J.R. Smith would be back next season, as he was playing himself into a lucrative contract — one that the Knicks couldn’t offer. However, after a playoff run that he’d like to forget, J.R. Smith very well might have played himself back into the Knicks’ price range. There are two ways J.R. Smith comes back: 1. Player option. 2. Early bird rights. I’ll explain.
Last off-season, J.R. Smith signed a one-year $2.8 million deal with the Knicks, but in the contract, included a player option for a second year where he would earn about $2.9 million. Of course, J.R. Smith could pick this option up, and I’d welcome him back in a second, because, no matter how erratic he can be, there’s no denying that his talent is a steal for under $3 million a year.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that J.R. Smith will pick up that player option, because he will likely fetch much more lucrative offers on the open market, and even from the Knicks.
After playing two seasons with the Knicks, New York holds J.R. Smith’s early bird-rights. This means that the Knicks could offer J.R. Smith a contract starting at 175% of his previous salary ($2.8 million) or 104.5% of the previous season’s average salary, whichever is greater. In this case, since last year’s salary was about ~$5 million, Smith’s first year salary would be about $5.25 million, with 7.5% increases year-over-year.
Using Larry Coon’s estimated average salary of $5.276 million for this past year, the Knicks could offer J.R. Smith a four year deal worth ~$22,571,736. Of course, this is likely more appealing to J.R. Smith, and Berman of the NY Post reported this morning that this is the direction the team is headed.
Those are the two methods of the Knicks re-signing J.R. Smith, but it’s worth noting that if J.R. Smith picks up his player option, the Knicks will not be able to orchestrate any sign-and-trades this year.
Well, the New York Knicks are out of the playoffs. As much as that sucks, it’s time to focus on the upcoming season… already.
As you know, the Knicks have several high-salary players and adding to this roster during the off-season is often a daunting task. With that said, Mr. Grunwald has done a fantastic job adding minimum salary players the last two years, so there’s no reason he cannot do it again. Additionally, the Knicks will have a few other vehicles to add players.
Before we can look at the types of moves the Knicks can do, let’s look at their financial position heading into the off-season.
- Amare Stoudemire: $21,679893
- Carmelo Anthony: $21,486,177
- Tyson Chandler: $14,100,538
- Marcus Camby: $4,383,773
- Steve Novak: $3,750,001
- Raymond Felton: $3,637,073
- Jason Kidd: $3,090,000
- Iman Shumpert: $1,703,760
So, heading into the 2013/2014 season, the Knicks will have a total of $73,831,215 committed to eight players. Just a reminder, but the salary cap will be about $58 million for the upcoming season, and the luxury tax line will be around $70 million – give or take a few million.With that said, the Knicks are over both the salary cap line and luxury tax line, with just eight players under contract. Because of that, they will be limited in the types of contracts and moves they can make.
First off, whether the Knicks can pull off a sign-and-trade will be completely dependent on whether or not J.R. Smith picks up his ~$2.9 million player option. In the new CBA, teams above the $74 million tax apron line are not allowed to complete sign-and-trades. As I outlined earlier, the Knicks’ salary commitments currently totals $73,831,215, which is just below the $74 million line that would forbid them to complete a sign-and-trade. Should J.R. Smith pick up his player option, though, the Knicks will be over the tax apron and be unable to complete a sign-and-trade.
Should the Knicks not complete a sign-and-trade, which looks like will be the case, they will have the tax-payer’s mid-level exception to sign a player this offseason. For the 2013-2014 season, the “Mini MLE” will be about $3.18 million.
Quickly, let’s look at why the Knicks will have the Mini MLE and not the full MLE: A team has to be under the $74 million tax apron if they wish to use the full MLE. So, in order for the Knicks to do so, they’d need to shed some salary. At this point, the only realistic way for the Knicks to shed the necessary salary would be for Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd to retire. Now, a team is allowed to use the Mini MLE if they wind up over the $74 million apron after the signing. However, teams cannot use the Mini MLE if they also complete a sign-and-trade that same offseason.
The Mini MLE can be used for up to three years and teams can offer 4.5% raises year-over-year, meaning the Knicks could offer a free-agent a three year, $9,985,150 contract.
As mentioned throughout this post, J.R. Smith has a player option of about $2.9 million that he could pick up, should he wish to return to the team. There are some alternative contract options for J.R. Smith, but I will cover those in their own post.
For the most part, that’s the Knicks’ financial outlook for the upcoming off-season. They’ll likely have the Mini MLE and veteran minimum contracts to offer. Over the next couple days, I’ll crank out a few more “off-season primers,” but this is a pretty solid overview. If you have any specific question, leave a comment and I’ll answer.