For the first time since 1996, the Knicks are actually below the salary cap for the upcoming season. With the off-season approaching, The Knicks couldn’t be in a better position. Walsh has set the stage for a dramatic off-season. He shed expensive contracts and gained more firepower to finish out the season, but first let’s look over what he did today.
In the first move, Walsh sent Darko Milicic, who was a failed project for the year, to the Timberwolves for Brian Cardinal. It really had no impact on the salary cap, but perhaps Cardinal can contribute more to the Knicks that Milicic did.
In a five player deal with Boston, the Knicks dealt fan favorite and Dunk Contest Champion, Nate Robinson. Since being benched 14 different times throughout the season, it was clear that Robinson did not fit in D’Antoni’s plans for the future. Even though Nate’s athleticism and passion were unmatched on the Knicks roster, his antics and unruly play were what ultimately forced Walsh’s hand. Whether it was shooting at the wrong basket or playing out of the system, Robinson was on D’Antoni’s last nerve. While many fans, including myself, are sad to see Robinson go, it has a real effect on the off-season. Even though Nate’s contract was up at the end of the year, the fact that he is gone just takes away the headache of trying to re-sign him to a deal that would still allow the Knicks to pursue the FA’s they are interested in. Boston received Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry in the trade while the Knicks received Eddie House, Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens.
Secondly, in the trade that has the most effect on the rest of this season, and possible the next few seasons, Walsh set up a 3-team trade between the Rockets and the Kings. Walsh added more offensive strength and cap space in a deal that will directly affect the moves he makes this offseason. The Knicks received Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez from Sacramento, the Kings added Larry Hughes, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey from NY while Houston received Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries. This trade is important to the Knicks for three main reasons. One, it adds McGrady, who will be turning 32 in May. McGrady may still have some energy left in his tank that can energize the Knicks and help make a late playoff push. Two, the Knicks were able to keep Al Harrington, despite the rumors that he will either be sent to Chicago or Houston as a part of the McGrady deal. Keeping Harrington is a huge win for New York because he has publicly supported the Knicks adding superstars next season, even if he has to take a pay cut. His talent alone may help lure FA’s to the Knicks. The third and most important ideal with the trade is the shedding of Jared Jeffries contract. This will put the Knicks $30 million below the salary cap after July 1st. This huge window allows the Knicks alot of possibilites.
Their main goal is to land LeBron James obviously, but now they can let him pick the other superstar he wants to play with. Whether is it Bosh, Wade, Nowitzki or Nash, James has an opportunity unlike any other he has had before this point. Of course all of this depends on landing a superstar or two, but no other team has the ability to offer two league maximum contracts except the NY Knicks. Walsh may be putting all of his eggs in one basket, but he is going to have the biggest basket in the league starting July 1st.