The salary cap David Stern is projecting after Friday's Board of Governor's meeting is $56.1 million. So let's just do basic math to determine what the Knicks will have to work with this summer.
Let's keep it simple and work off a bare bones payroll. This means all Bird Rights, including that of David Lee, are waived and Sergio Rodriguez isn't tendered his qualifying offer of $2.8M. Let's also say the Knicks pass on picking up J.R. Giddens' team option of $1.1M, which would also mean $1.96M in 2011-12.
But we'll allow that the Knicks want to keep Bill Walker, so his $854,389 team option is picked up.
That leaves five players under contract:
Eddy Curry - $11,276,863
Danilo Gallinari - $3,304,560
Wilson Chandler - $2,130,481
Toney Douglas - $1,071,000
Bill Walker - $854,389
Total amount of contracts: $18,637,293
* - Now, there are two second round picks, but unsigned second-round picks don't count toward your payroll. A first-round pick would, so if the Knicks do make a move to acquire a late first-round pick, that salary slot has to be included.
With five players, the Knicks will be charged seven cap holds at $473,604 each to fill out the mandatory 12-man roster. That total is $3,315,228.
That brings the Knicks payroll to $21,952,521.
The Knicks also have two trade exceptions for a total of $3.27 million. These count, so raise the number to $25,222,521.
Now take that number and subtract it from the proposed cap number and we're talking about $30.8 million in actual space.
If the Knicks move those exceptions, the actual number is $34,147,479.
A max contract based on a $56.1M cap would pay $16,830,000 in the first year, so that means the Knicks would have just enough to make two max contract offers to free agents. In other words, the Knicks could slide $33,660,000 across the table to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or James and Amar'e Stoudemire, or James and Chris Bosh, or Joe Johnson and Stoudemire, or Johnson and Bosh . . .
But that would leave just $487,479 left to fill five more roster spots. Sign the two second round picks and now you still have to find three more players. I'm no CBA wizard, but it would take some serious strategizing to do a double-max here and still fill out a decent roster. But you could also use Eddy Curry's expiring contract to acquire multiple players and fix this issue. You probably won't get much value back, but how much more talent do you really need if you are signing James and Wade?
I mean, Douglas, Wade, Gallinari, James and any center at the vets min should do just fine. Douglas, Johnson, Gallinari, Stoudemire/Bosh and a center at the vets min isn't awful, either, especially with Wilson Chandler and Bill Walker coming off the bench. Still need some guard depth, of course, but still...
Of course the Knicks could opt to keep David Lee at his max of $14,025,000 (five years experience) and then target one of the above star free agents at the full max and have a more workable $3,292,479 left to spend on the five remaining roster spots. That number could be higher if Lee is agreeable to less than the max (say $10M-to-$12M). Then you can really fill out the roster with more talent, including a much-needed shot-blocking center such as Marcus Camby.
And, again, the Curry contract as an expiring could bring in some bodies.
It needs to be said here that the $16,830,000 max would be a slight pay cut for players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who each have an option year for $17.1M on the table. Amar'e Stoudemire has a $17.6M option. It would make more financial sense for these players to agree on extensions with their home teams. That is, if they're all about the money. And considering negotiations for a new CBA are on the horizon, players (and agents) have to consider this.
A player such as Joe Johnson, who has no option year, would get a nice raise with a max offer from his 2009-10 salary of $14.9M. So it doesn't apply as much to him.
But this does: All of those players, of course, can make more money over the life of the contract if they re-sign with their home teams, because the CBA allows the home team to offer 10.5 percent raises and six years. Everyone else can offer 8 percent and five years.