The Knicks welcomed in GM Donnie Walsh and head coach Mike D'Antoni last season, and the two put an entertaining, if not very good, team together. D'Antoni's coaching philosophy led to breakout seasons from Nate Robinson, David Lee, and Chris Duhon, among others. The team made deals with the Warriors, Clippers, Thunder, and Bulls in efforts to clear up cap space for the summer of 2010 and also endured an ugly back-and-forth with former Knick Stephon Marbury, who eventually received a buyout for nearly $19 million. The 2009 summer could bring more building for the summer of 2010.
Cap situation: $70.9 million committed to 11 players. The team should be able to deduct $9.5 million of Cuttino Mobley's salary due to the Medical Retirement clause, resulting in a $61.4 million cap figure for 10 players. League salary cap estimated at $58 million for 2009-2010 season.
Returning players: Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Wilson Chandler, Chris Duhon, Danilo Gallinari, Jared Jeffries, and Eddy Curry. Darko Milicic acquired via trade.
Rookies: Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas
Key free agents: David Lee (restricted), Nate Robinson (restricted), and Chris Wilcox.
Five Burning Questions
1) How much is too much to retain David Lee and/or Nate Robinson?
Lee led the league in double-doubles a season ago, and his value has skyrocketed as a results. Robinson also took his value to a new level as he averaged 17.1 points and 4.1 assists in 74 games. In 11 starts, the mighty mite averaged 21 points, 5.5 rebounds, and five assists per game. Lee, in particular, will get a big offer from whoever loses out on Carlos Boozer this summer, and Robinson will probably command more money than he's worth from somebody. Robinson seems as good as gone, as D'Antoni publicly questioned his attitude and basketball smarts as last season was winding down. If Robinson doesn't field any offers beyond the Knicks qualifying $2.9 million, then he will be forced to come back on the cheap to the Knicks. Lee, on the other hand, should command $50 million or more this summer. Given the Knicks desire to land two max contract players next summer and their selection of power forward Jordan Hill with the No. 8 overall pick, it seems unlikely that they would match. The best they can hope for is a sign-and-trade that would bring in cheap young players and expiring contracts.
2) Will anybody take Eddy Curry and/or Jared Jeffries?
The Knicks have made it no secret that they are desperate to trade the contracts of both Curry and Jeffries, as both of their deals extend into 2011 and would limit their flexibility next summer. Not to mention, neither player made any kind of an impact last season. Curry claims he is healthy and ready to contribute, but the team doesn't seem to care. The two players will be shopped extensively, but the Knicks may have to throw in one of their only assets, such as Wilson Chandler or Chris Duhon in order for a team to pull the trigger on either of these two. There's probably more interest in Curry, as there are always teams looking to shore up some depth in the middle.
3) Will Ricky Rubio or Stephen Curry play for the Knicks next season?
Although the Knicks landed two solid players in the 2009 Draft, they were undoubtedly disappointed when Curry was selected by the Warriors one slot ahead of them. Many expected the Warriors to grab Hill, who was taken by the Knicks at No. 8. The two picks could still be swapped, but it seems the Knicks would have to give up more than they care to in order to land Stephen. The Timberwolves selected two point guards, Rubio and Jonny Flynn, and many expect them to deal one of the two. The Knicks likely have interest in both, but they'll have to get creative in order to land them. In my Wolves preview, I suggested a sign-and-trade of David Lee, combined with Eddy Curry and Wilson Chandler, for Rubio, Kevin Love, Brian Cardinal, and Etan Thomas. Both Cardinal and Thomas have nice expiring contracts, which the Knicks clearly covet. It's a stretch, for sure, but it's something that makes some sort of sense for both sides. Especially if Rubio demands a trade.
4) Will Danilo Gallinari be able to contribute next season?
The No. 6 overall pick from the 2008 draft underwent back surgery in early April after being plagued by soreness dating back to last summer. He was limited to an average of 14.7 minutes in 28 appearances as a rookie, but he still drew rave reviews from D'Antoni, who called him the best shooter on a team loaded with shooters. He will be 21 in August, and hopefully his youth will aid him in his recovery. If Gallinari is able to come back, he will play more minutes, but he still may not start. The Knicks did trade Quentin Richardson on draft night for Darko Milicic to clear some more minutes for him. Assuming he gets back to 100 percent (which he hasn't been since the Knicks drafted him), the Italian Stallion could be among the league leaders in three-point shooting while contributing solid defense.
5) What can realistically be expected next summer?
Everything we have been told essentially paints the picture of LeBron James-or-bust for the Knicks next summer. If the Cavs fail to win a championship this season, the King may very well leave town, and New York is believed to be his top destination. However, they don't exactly have the pieces in place to present James with a very attractive supporting cast. As it stands now, the Knicks will consist of Curry, Jeffries, Gallinari (team option), Chandler (team option), Hill, and Toney Douglas. Aside from Chandler, there's not a good starter among them. That mix of players stands to make $21.3 million combined. The NBA also has rules that assign a "roster charge" equivalent to the rookie minimum salary for teams that have less than 12 players signed. That salary is $473,604 next summer, and it will be charged six times over to the Knicks, given the current makeup of their roster. This brings their assigned salary up to $24.1 millions. Also, that's without factoring in a draft pick, which seems unlikely. Assuming an optimistic cap of $60 million next season, James and his 2003 classmates (along with Dirk, Yao, Joe Johnson, and possibly Manu) will stand to make $18 million in their first season of a maximum contract. This will make it virtually impossible for them to land two max-contract players, unless the cap unexpectedly jumps above $60 million. However, there are a ton of good players that won't command the max salary. Veterans such as Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Tracy McGrady, Josh Howard, Marcus Camby, Mike Miller, and Rafer Alston are a few of the non-max contract stars (used loosely) that will be available. Clearly, they need to move Curry and Jeffries (who combine to make $18.2 million) for expiring contracts or buy them out this season.
Ideally, the Knicks can acquire either Rubio or Curry along with some expiring contracts in a deal that will virtually kill their playoff hopes for this coming season but positions them for a dynasty beginning next summer with the signing of LeBron. I'm going to use the same scenario with the Timberwolves as listed in my third burning question. This means they can get a good take for Lee and saves them an additional $5 million for next summer, all the while adding Rubio and Love to a suddenly LeBron-friendly roster.
Resulting Depth Chart
PG: Ricky Rubio/Chris Duhon
SG: Larry Hughes/Toney Douglas
SF: Al Harrington/Danilo Gallinari
PF: Kevin Love/Jordan Hill/Jared Jeffries/Brian Cardinal
C: Darko Milicic/Etan Thomas
Strengths: 2010-cap friendly, size, depth, youth, seven players playing for contracts, passing, three-point shooting, future
Weaknesses: Centers, volatile, divisive between young and old?
Gator...I like what you did what my Knicks but I think the starting front court will be
I didn't write this. I copy & pasted this from a website...I thought some people would enjoy reading it.
oh...thank you then...what site is it?
It would have been fun to watch if the Knicks drafted Eric Gordon last year or Augustin or Bayless.
Whomever came up with those moves is stupid. Why would Minnesota give up Rubio and Love for anything that the Knicks have. The Timberwolves do not need to save money. Curry and Jefferson would bump heads and Curry is not a niche player like Love.
If Douglas is as good as people say then the Knicks may be on to something. They got Darko for hardly anything. They still have Chandler. They pick up a top forward in the draft. They just need a star because they have a lot of untapped talent right now. Mike D could turn Darko's career around and then sign him to cheap after he picks up an All Star type and maybe add Steve Nash.
Resulting Depth Chart
PG:Chris Duhon/Toney Douglas
SG: Wilson Chandler/Larry Hughes
SF: Al Harrington/Danilo Gallinari
PF: Jordan Hill/Jared Jeffries
C: Darko Milicic/Etan Thomas
This is not a terrible line up that they may add a star and Steve Nash to next year
They still may get some draft picks and nice players for Lee, and Nate or maybe package them with Curry to get rid of him.
If you look at this team now with out counting any moves that will be made with the players I have mentioned. They have quality at every position and they play in the East. It hey can get some nice players in trades they will a playoff team maybe. They will be in it at least to the last week. You have to think if they do not win now who will want to play for them and be in rebuilding mode. They will have to at least make the playoffs so that some star believes he is the missing piece.
I dont forsee that being the lineup if they have those players. You know D'Antoni likes the Euro players and love the three ball at every position. I could see the lineup looking like this.
PG: Duhon/ Douglas
SG: Gallinari/ Hughes
SF: Chandler/ Gallinari/ Harrington
PF: Harrington/ Hill
C: Jeffries/ Milicic
Speed and Range.
Gallo cannot play the SG SPOT....SWITCH HIM AND CHANDLER
Thats what i ment...thats my fault.
Jeffries will not start. He got time last year to try and showcase him to be dealt. That didnt work because he cant even make a layup.
Starting linuep at beginning of season:
Starting lineup at end of season(unless in playoff hunt)
Watch out for Rubio but we may have to give up Gallinari or Chandler to get him. He wil most likely play in Europe if he isnt dealt. I'd put him as starter at end of the season if thats the case.
*Bonus*- sign Gerald Green as another young piece that still has upside.
2009- "The New Redeem Team" (Darko, Green)