After moving Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks and opening up cap space many thought that Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks would be happy with re-signing Carmelo Anthony and calling it an off-season. However, Jackson is looking to create even more cap space and perhaps start the summer of spending in New York now rather than the 2015 free agent period.
Before this off-season began, the New York Knicks had four large contracts on the books. Those included Carmelo Anthony's, Tyson Chandler's, Amare Stoudemire's and Andrea Bargnani's contracts. Anthony opted out of his contract and is now a free agent. Phil Jackson was able to use the Dallas Mavericks' desire to bring Chandler back to rid themselves of his and Raymond Felton's contract. Can the Knicks find a way to trade Stoudemire and/or Bargnani to create some real cap space immediately instead of waiting for next off-season?
Right now Anthony is contemplating if he should re-sign with the Knicks or sign with another team like the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls or elsewhere. However, Jackson would make that decision a lot easier if he somehow turned Stoudemire and Bargnani into enough cap space to re-sign Anthony and bring in additional impact free agents.
For instance, in theory Jackson could shed Stoudemire and Bargnani's contracts and then re-sign Anthony as well as sign LeBron James. It may seem like a fantasy but it could happen, in theory. Obviously that's like an off-season of miracles.
Could you imagine Jackson trading Chandler, Felton, Stoudemire and Bargnani along with re-signing Anthony and signing James? He'd be the executive of the year for sure. For Knicks fans he'd probably already be known as the best executive in franchise history. That all in less than one off-season.
That being said, so far he's only made one of those moves. He's traded Chandler and Felton. Great move. He gained more cap space, while changing the culture of the team and taking a huge leap forward at the point guard position by adding Jose Calderon.
Obviously there's a lot of work to be done before Jackson can accept his prize and claim he moved all of these large contracts along with adding the two top free agents on the market.
That being said, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com reports that Jackson has engaged in talks to trade Stoudemire to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Speaking on First Take, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said the Knicks and Sixers have had conversations about a deal that would send Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert to the Philadelphia. Although what the Sixers would send back isn't clear, it likely wouldn't be much more than a draft pick or non-guaranteed contract player, as the Knicks would do the deal to clear cap space.
The move would clear roughly $25 million in cap space for the Knicks, and would potentially allow them to chase another prime free agent. Although losing Shumpert would be a loss for the Knicks, it would likely be worth it to rid themselves of Stoudemire's contract.
The question would be if it would be worth losing Shumpert in order to trade Stoudemire when his contract will simply expire in the off-season anyway. Ultimately, that answer lies in what the Knicks would do with that cap space.
If they don't use it to add another top free agent along with re-signing Anthony the move is basically useless. All they would do is trade away a young asset to get cap relief a year early. However, who would argue with using Shumpert to move Stoudemire's contract if it landed a pair of superstars and additional supporting players?
CBS New York reports the Jackson recently turned down a trade that would have sent Bargnani out of town.
The Knicks have apparently engaged the Philadelphia 76ers about Stoudemire and recently rejected a trade that involved Bargnani, because the proposed deal included coveted shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., SNY reported.
Why did Jackson say no to the Bargnani trade? He didn't want to trade Tim Hardaway Jr. Most Knicks fans would agree with that stance. In fact, most would agree that if the Knicks needed to trade Shumpert or Hardaway Jr. they'd say goodbye to Shumpert.
Would you say goodbye to both in order to create cap space? That same CBS New York article showed how much space would be created if Jackson were able to trade both Stoudemire and Bargnani.
If Jackson is able to jettison both Stoudemire and Bargnani he would rid the Knicks of a combined $34.9 million commitment and put them in the neighborhood of $40 million under the NBA’s projected $63 million cap, SNY reported.
That being said, the Knicks don't really have draft picks available to package with these contracts to help clear the space. A team would have to want an expiring contract and basically give the Knicks nothing. Should the Knicks ask for Thaddeus Young? Of course, but they'd be just as happy to get two second round picks back from Philadelphia or perhaps one and the rights to Vasilije Micic.
The bottom line is, Jackson has a lot to accomplish before he can call Anthony and James up and offer to pair them up. However, he's not sitting back comfortable with just trading Chandler and Felton. He's looking into moving Stoudemire and Bargnani. If he can do that, the Knicks could make major moves this off-season instead of waiting till after the next season.