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Old 05-12-2012, 03:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Can The Knicks Get Steve Nash?
By Steve Kyler

Can The Knicks Get Nash?: After being eliminated last night in Miami, Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire was asked about the possibility of Phoenix free agent Steve Nash choosing the Knicks this summer as a free agent. Stoudemire said what every Knicks fan would say, that of course Nash would be a good fit in NYC.

“Everyone knows that Steve loves New York and that New York loves Steve,” Stoudemire told Frank Isola of The Daily News. “I love Steve. It would be great to have him here next year.”

The problem is the Knicks will have limited options and lots of guys to consider.

First – Jeremy Lin.

Lin will be what’s called an Arenas-rights player. He has been in the NBA less than four years, meaning the Knicks team can make him a restricted free agent by issuing a Qualifying Offer. In Lin’s case because he is not on a typical first round pick rookie deal, his Offer amount is calculated using 125% of his previous salary, or the player’s minimum salary plus $200,000, whichever is greater. In Lin’s case his minimum salary as a third year player is $854,389 plus $200,000 making his Qualifier $1.054 million.

Now enter the wrinkle. Lin does not possess Bird Rights, but the Knicks can match anything up to the Mid-Level to keep him if they restrict him. Opposing teams are limited to the Mid-Level in their initial offer, but can increase the third and fourth year of a deal so that all years average to the amount of cap space they have available. — that’s the Arenas provision.

So the wrinkle gets a little sillier, especially if a team with cap space makes a big cap space type offer. According to Larry Coon’s CBAFAQ, Lin’s maximum offer can be constructed like this:

If a team that is $9 million under the cap… [and] wants to submit a four-year offer sheet, and wants to provide a large raise in the third season, they can offer a total of $36 million over four years. The first-year salary is limited to the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception, or $5 million. The second-year salary will be $5.225 million (4.5% raise). This leaves $25.775 million to be distributed over the final two seasons of the contract, with a 4.1% raise from year three to year four. So the entire contract looks like this:

Season – Salary – Notes

1 – $5,000,000 – Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level amount for 2011-12

2 – $5,225,000 – 4.5% raise over season 1

3 – $12,628,613 – This is the amount that yields $25.775 million over the final two seasons with a 4.1% raise

4 – $13,146,387 – Raise is 4.1% of season 3 salary

Total – $36,000,000 – Average is $9 million, which equals the team’s cap room

For the team making this offer, this contract would count for $9.0 million (i.e., the average salary in the contract) of team salary in each of the four seasons if they sign the player. If the player’s prior team matches the offer and keeps the player, then the actual salary in each season counts as team salary. The player’s original team is allowed to use any available exception (e.g., the Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level or the Early Bird) to match the offer.

Sources close to the situation say there could be as many as six teams willing to make an offer to Jeremy Lin, some are willing to test New York’s resolve on Lin with a deal constructed like Larry’s outline above. It’s doubtful anyone is going to make an offer that averages $9 million, but would someone do a deal that averages $6 to $7 million? – that’s probable.

In order to match such an offer, not only would the Knicks have to commit their full Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level exception to Lin, they’d also take on contract values in years 3 and 4 that would likely be taxed by the NBA more punitive Luxury Tax that kicks in in 2013.

The Knicks owe Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler $60.632 million alone in 2014-2015, when year three of Jeremy’s new contract would kick in.

Second – Landry Fields

As a 2nd round pick, Landry is in sort of the same boat as Jeremy Lin. A $1.054 million Qualifying Offer gives the Knicks the right to match anything Landry is offered and teams are limited to the mid-level in their first year.

Landry is eligible for an Early-Bird contract – 175% of his salary in the previous season or 104.5% of the average salary in the previous season, whichever is greater . The Knicks can use this provision to match an contract offer without touching their full Mid-Level exception

It’s highly unlikely anyone is offering Landry a full mid-level deal, but if a team did make such an offer. The Knicks would have to use some of their Exception money to keep Landry unless he does the Knicks a huge favor and signs right out of the gate for a two-year early Bird deal

That would be incredibly foolish for Fields, as there are going to be multi-year offers from other teams.

Third – J.R. Smith

J.R. has an option year worth $2.6 million. It is possible J.R. uses it to stay in New York, but the reality is he will likely be hitting free agency and the Knicks like several other teams could use their Mid-Level exception to try and sign Smith.

The problem is, if the Knicks use the Exception on Smith, they have no means to retain Lin or Fields.

Lastly – Nash or Other Free Agents

If the Knicks use their Mid-Level Exception to try and lure in Steve Nash, they would not have the means to keep Lin, Fields or Smith – unless they did the Knicks a huge favor and signed for less than market value money.

The Knicks do have the $2.06 million contract of Toney Douglas that they could try and package with injured Rookie Iman Shumpert’s $1.633 million deal to try and swing a sing and trade, but the truth of the matter is that Steve Nash will have much larger offers, including what’s believed to be a new two-year $20 million deal with the Suns.

The Knicks have painted themselves into an interesting corner with the deals they have issued and with no first round pick this year, they are going to have to be very crafty with their minimum contract offers and it’s pretty clear they will be losing some of their guys simply because of how the economic system works.

Amar’e Stoudemire may want Steve Nash, but to get him the Knicks would have to pass on almost everyone else.

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