NBA AM: Can The Knicks Get Steve Nash?
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.
Jameer’s Option: Magic guard Jameer Nelson has roughly three days to let the Orlando Magic know if he plans to exercise his player option and remain with the team.
Nelson is owed $7.8 million next season, but could opt to leave that money on the table in favor of a new deal, either with the Magic or with another team.
“I can’t make the decision until some other decisions are made around here,” Nelson said to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. “I want to be here in the Orlando Magic uniform. I love being here. I love being in the city.”
The decisions Nelson is referring to is who will be running the team – Magic President Otis Smith is likely going to be replaced in the coming days – and who will be coaching the team – Stan Van Gundy is expected to be replaced as well.
For the last several weeks sources close to Nelson have suggested Nelson would opt-out of his deal if only to insure he can pick his future.
There is a real fear in Nelson’s circle that the Magic would look to trade Nelson’s ending contract to try and upgrade the roster as enticement to retain Dwight Howard, which could send Nelson to situations he does not want to be in.
Some have also suggested that Nelson has grown weary of the circus environment in Orlando, and that unless the team gets situated in a way to remove the circus he may seek life elsewhere.
Nelson won’t command the major free agent dollars that other free agents such as Steve Nash or Deron Williams would command, but a deal in the $6 to $7 million range isn’t out of the question.
Nelson continues to say all of the right things, which is how he has always handled himself. So if you were waiting for the verbal hand grenade from Jameer, it’s not going to happen.
Nelson and his agent have a couple of days to feel out where things stand, but the general belief is Nelson will opt out, if only to insure he gets a long-term deal and the security associated with it.
The Magic have $66.7 million in salary commitments including the Player Option on Nelson worth $7.8 million.
All of J.J. Redick’s $6.19 million contract is non-guaranteed, as is all of Von Wafer’s $1.06 million. Earl Clark holds a $1.2 million Player Option as well.
The Magic will have the option of restricting Ryan Anderson’s free agency with a $3.23 million Qualifying Offer.
In a perfect-world scenario, the Magic could get to just $50.46 million in commits if they pass on all their options and the players holding options test the market.
The Magic will also have the 19th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, assuming they do not use that pick to try and swing a draft trade, the 19th pick will cost Orlando $1.18 million in salary cap space.
The other side of the coin is, if all the Magic’s players exercise in on their options, the Magic could lose their Mid-Level Exception.
The Magic are sitting at $66.7 million in commits, plus their first round pick equaling $67.88 million with everyone in. The new CBA gives teams a $4 million “apron” over the tax line, before the value of their Exceptions change.
The Magic, as they sit, are $2.42 million under the luxury tax, as the 2012-2013 tax line is guaranteed to be no less than $70.307 million; it could go up but will not go down this year.
Meaning the Magic could add only $1.42 million in salary before usage of the full Mid-level Exception would push them over the “apron”.
So any additional salary dollars given to Nelson or Anderson would impact the exception, as well.
The Magic are in quite the pickle cap wise, and Nelson’s answer on his option could be a big part of the solution.
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