Written by Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
It took longer than some people had hoped, but the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony finally were able to come to an agreement on a contract, as he will play out the remainder of his prime years in orange and blue. The exact numbers of the contract are not known, but what is known is that it will be for five years and between $122-123 million. It is not for the maximum that the Knicks were allowed under the CBA to offer Anthony, which makes both the player and organizations winners in this pact.
Heading into free agency, the biggest advantage the Knicks had over any other team courting Anthony was money. They could offer an extra year and anywhere between $30 and almost $50 million dollars depending on who the contract was coming from. While the extra money would be hard to pass up for Anthony, President Phil Jackson and the Knicks still needed to make sure the flexibility would still be there. $6-7 million does not sound like much of a discount, but given the circumstances the Knicks are in and cap situation, that is a big help.
Under the current CBA, Anthony is eligible for 7.5 percent increases in salary every season of the deal starting at $22.5 million. If reports are right and Anthony takes a flat salary in Year 2, the numbers will go as follows:
2014-15: $22.5 million
2015-16: $22.5 million
2016-2017: $24.2 million
2017-2018: $25.9 million
2018-2019: 27.6 million
Where the Knicks save in this deal is the second year of the contract, where they needed it most. The summer of 2015 is where the Knicks will have immense cap space, the first real chance Jackson and new head coach Derek Fisher have to really shape this roster. With Anthony firmly in place, they have the cornerstone, now it is time to augment the roster and add to the centerpiece they have in place. It does not seem like a lot on the outside, but that $2 million dollars could be the difference between the regular midlevel exception and the mini.
The idea behind this is that Anthony gets his money, but later on so that the Knicks can take advantage of the massive cap space they are projected to have earlier on in the Anthony pact. Teams will more often than not try getting players to take less at the end of their contracts, but with this one the Knicks are agreeing to make sure Anthony gets his money over time as long as he gives them the flexibility earlier on to help get talent around him.
Jackson was very happy with how things progressed as well, saying, “He [Carmelo] did exactly what we kind of asked him to do. Give us a break in the early part of his contract so that when we have some wiggle room next year, which is hopefully big enough wiggle room, we can exploit it.” Jackson continued that saying, “I want to be fiscally responsible. We’ve been a taxpayer team for a little bit and we want to limit that.”
The Knicks have the taxpayer’s mini midlevel exception available to them, but they may not put that to use this season. The Knicks, admitted by Jackson, have some holes on the roster, but said, “We’re not just going to foolishly throw money away because it’s available to us.”
The hard part now is done for the Knicks, as they finally have their guy in Anthony locked up and on board. The next step for the Knicks will be evening out the roster. As currently situated, the Knicks are over-loaded in the backcourt with a log jam at the shooting guard position and a plethora of guards. On the flipside, they are thin up front and could use some help up front in the center and big man departments. How they go about filling those holes will be interesting to watch, as the goal is to keep the salary cap in 2015 and beyond as open as possible.
During his time on the television broadcast Jackson mentioned some holdovers from last season that he expected to see improvements from this season. That may be the strategy the Knicks take, hoping players such as Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani fit more into the new scheme than the old one. Whatever the decision must be, it is now up to Jackson and Fisher to continue shaping this organization into the contender the fans and city are desperate to have.