Monday, Jason Kidd decided to step away from his 19 year NBA career. The New York Knicks are sad to see Kidd go because his basketball IQ and game knowledge are unparalleled. However, his departure will certainly make the Knicks a younger team. The question is, will his departure free up enough money for the Knicks to use a full mid-level exception in the off-season?
Before discussing the mid-level exception there's something that should be discussed. Jason Kidd decided to walk away from the over $6 million dollars left on his contract with the New York Knicks. That is not the norm, in fact, it's pretty rare.
Kidd had two fully guaranteed years remaining on his deal with the Knicks. Just retiring doesn't actually take the team relief for the salary owed to him. Usually a retiring player with years left on their deal negotiate a buyout, are formally waived and then retire. Instead, Kidd agreed to forgo the money.
That allows the Knicks to remove Kidd’s $3.09 million off of their cap for the next two years. Classy to the end, Kidd could have easily been paid to sit at home and play with his kids but instead he thanked the team for the opportunity to play last season and walked away with no strings attached.
That being said, does freeing up another $3.09 million allow the Knicks to use a full mid-level exception to sign talent this off-season? Could they potentially earn the right to conduct sign-and-trades to bring talent in?
Moke Hamilton of TheKnicksBlog.com broke down what wiping Kidd's salary off the Knicks cap means for this off-season:
"The concern with Kidd’s salary and what happens to it, I believe, is rooted in wondering whether his retiring and salary forfeiture will allow the Knicks to get far enough below the luxury tax apron to give them access to the $5.15 million non-taxpayer mid-level exception and/or put them in a position to acquire a player in a sign-and-trade arrangement.
The answer is no.
What it boils down to is simple: even without re-signing any of those three or signing their draft pick, the Knicks $71.6 million is simply too high for a team that wants to use the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception.
The luxury tax apron for 2013-14 is expected to be somewhere between $75 million and $76 million, and the rule behind the usage of the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception is that it may only be used in full if the team is still below the apron after spending it. In other words, a team may only use the full exception if they are at least $5.15 million below the apron, and as of right now, the Knicks are not likely to be.
The simple fact is the Knicks have a lot of money tied up into the core players of this roster. Unless by some miracle a team decides to take Amare Stoudemire and his contract off the Knicks hands it is very unlikely that New York will be able to bring in any high impact players this off-season. That's just how it is.
Quite frankly, the Knicks have other issues to deal with as well. They have the hard cap to deal with. They have the decisions to make on J.R. Smith, Pablo Prigioni, Chris Copeland, Kenyon Martin and others. Smith will likely be brought back using his Early Bird Rights. However, if the team wants to bring back Prigioni, Copeland and/or Martin they could have to tap into their mini mid-level exception in order to do it. The Knicks may only have a small portion of the exception to use on an outside free agent.
So, even with Kidd walking away from the money, the Knicks payroll situation is just about the same as it was before his retirement. Additionally, now the team has to improve its point guard depth. Kidd retiring does allow the Knicks to get younger and more athletic in that depth. That's a good thing.
It will be interesting to see how they do it though. We know two things, it won't be with using a full mid-level exception and it won't be by using a sign-and-trade. Get to work Glen Grunwald! It's time for you to earn your paycheck.