Summer agenda: Knicks' top priority remains resolving Carmelo Anthony situation

Bobby Marks
The Vertical
Carmelo Anthony has an $8.1 million trade bonus and a no-trade clause. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at the possible offseason plans and roster details for every team in the league.

Previous teams in the series: Nets and Suns | Timberwolves and 76ers | Magic and Kings | Hornets and Pelicans

NEW YORK KNICKS

Offseason focus

This is not what team president Phil Jackson envisioned when taking over in 2014.

Two head coaches in three years, a roster that has turned over each of the past two summers, no point guard on the roster, the starting center is recovering from rotator-cuff surgery with a 12-game suspension waiting when he returns plus $54 million left on his contract, and Carmelo Anthony is on the trade block.

Not to mention Kristaps Porzingis is disgruntled with the direction of the organization.

So where do the Knicks turn?

It starts with Anthony.

Closure with Carmelo

There is no easy solution to the Anthony situation in New York.

Anthony’s trade value does not reflect his on-court play, but a bloated salary that features an $8.1 million trade bonus and a no-trade clause.

Here are New York’s options when it comes to Anthony:

1. Find a willing trade partner after July 1 that has the cap flexibility and players to match (and fill needs) to take on Anthony’s $34.3 million and $27.9 million (early termination option) cap hit in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Anthony would have to approve the trade, but dealing him before July 1 is a challenge because teams are operating under the 2016-17 salary cap, with soon-to-be free agents not eligible to be traded.

New York will need to be realistic when it comes to trade partners. The package in return will not mirror the multiple first-round picks and core players the Knicks sent to Denver in 2011.

2. Anthony and his camp approach Knicks management about a possible buyout.

If New York cannot find a trade partner that fits Anthony’s preference, Anthony and his agent, Leon Rose, should explore what his contract value would be if he were a free agent this summer.

If there is a landing spot with a playoff-worthy team – and a two-year contract at $15 million annually – Anthony should be bought out for half of the $54 million he’s owed.

Anthony would not lose money and the Knicks would receive significant cap relief not only this summer but in 2018-19 as well.

New York would see $26.2 million and $27.9 million cap hits reduced to $5.4 million over the next five seasons.

3. Do nothing.

This isn’t the ideal option, but it is the Knicks.

Because Jackson and the team’s former franchise player aren’t seeing eye to eye, the first two options are more realistic.

But it was Jackson who put the Knicks in this position by re-signing Anthony in 2014 and including the no-trade clause and trade bonus, so a deal will not be easy.

The Knicks are definitely in a tough spot.

Solution at point guard

The easiest path would be to throw big money at Derrick Rose and lock him into a long-term contract.

That was the idea last June when New York acquired the expiring contract of Rose along with his Bird rights.

On paper the combination of Rose, Courtney Lee, Anthony, Porzingis and Joakim Noah certainly resembled a playoff team.

But with New York coming off a 31-win season and Rose having season-ending knee surgery, the lack of depth at point guard was still apparent.

So what’s the franchise’s best option?

It starts with cutting loose Rose and focusing on a point-guard heavy draft.

Though the theory in the draft is to take the best available player, the Knicks, with the No. 7 pick overall, could have the best of both worlds.

The best available player when they pick will likely be a point guard.

Derrick Rose may not be in the Knicks’ future plans. (AP)

Summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                                          2017-18                                       Insider info
Carmelo Anthony                              $26,243,760                   No-trade clause/trade bonus
Joakim Noah                                      $17,765,000                            12-game suspension
Courtney Lee                                      $11,747,890
Lance Thomas                                    $6,655,325
Kristaps Porzingis                              $4,503,600
Kyle O’Quinn                                       $4,087,500                              Extension eligible
Mindaugas Kuzminskas                     $3,025,035
Willy Hernangomez                            $1,435,750

Non/partial                                           2017-18                                   Guarantee date
Marshall Plumlee                                $1,312,611                                        July 20
Maurice Ndour                                    $1,312,611                                        June 30
Chasson Randle                                  $1,312,611

FA cap hold                                           2017-18                                        FA status
Ron Baker                                            $1,512,611                              Restricted non-Bird
Derrick Rose                                        $30,300,000                                        Bird
Sasha Vujacic                                       $1,471,382                                      Early Bird
Justin Holiday                                      $1,471,382

First-round cap hold                             2017-18
Projected No. 7 selection                     $3,821,640

Salary table                                             2017
Guaranteed salaries                         $75,463,860
Non-guaranteed                                $3,937,833
Tax variance                                         $476,313
Free-agent cap holds                        $38,577,015
Salaries: cap                                      $117,978,708
Salaries: tax                                       $79,878,006
Salary cap                                         $101,000,000
Luxury tax                                         $121,000,000
Cap space                                None ($16,978,708 over)
Tax room                                             $41,121,994

Projected cap space

Rose’s $30.3 million free-agent hold has the Knicks in a waiting game when it comes to cap space.

If New York decides to look elsewhere for a point guard, or if Rose signs with a new team, the Knicks would then have $14.8 million in room.

The room factors in their three non-guaranteed contracts, and the cap holds of their lottery pick and Justin Holiday.

Holiday has early Bird rights, and New York can use the available room before signing Holiday.

New York however is limited to signing Holiday to the average player salary of $8.1 million.

June draft picks

The Knicks have their own first-round pick, projected to be No. 7 overall.

As part of the Rose trade last June, New York also has the Bulls’ second-round pick at No. 44.

New York also has the Rockets’ second-round pick at No. 58.

Philadelphia has the Knicks’ second-round pick at No. 36. The pick was originally traded to Toronto as part of the Andrea Bargnani trade and was eventually moved to Utah and finally Philadelphia.

Future draft picks

New York has its own future first-round picks.

Danilo Gallinari is injury-prone but coming off his best season. (AP)

DENVER NUGGETS

Offseason focus

Comfort level with Danilo Gallinari

Is Gallinari this year’s free-agent version of Chandler Parsons? Parsons, hampered by knee injuries, signed a four-year, $94 million deal last offseason and played just 34 games with the Grizzlies.

Since playing in 81 games in his second season with New York in 2009-10, Gallinari has averaged 59 games a year, not including the 2013-14 season, which he missed because of a torn left ACL.

Unlikely to receive disability insurance based on his medical history, the Nuggets will need to protect themselves with either a prior-injury exclusion, or by tying his compensation into number of games played.

Health concerns aside, Gallinari is coming off his best season, averaging 18.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 63 games.

Now more of a hybrid power forward, Gallinari’s ability to stretch the floor and guard power forwards fits well with the league-wide trend of teams going small.

Gallinari, set to opt out of his $16.1 million contract, turns 29 in August.

Mason Plumlee’s fit

Statistics do not illustrate Plumlee’s true value.

Yes, he has limitations and the 27-year-old’s upside is capped.

But Plumlee, on his third team in four seasons, is durable, can adapt to different systems and can start or come off the bench.

Now set to be a restricted free agent, Plumlee is in an interesting situation.

There is a lack of a market for teams in need of a center, but Denver traded Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick to acquire Plumlee with the intent of him being more than a two-month rental.

The spike in payroll

The Nuggets will be penalized for having a solid draft in 2014 and needing to re-sign their developed assets.

Picked No. 19 overall in 2014, 22-year-old shooting guard Gary Harris is rookie-extension eligible.

A fixture in the starting lineup the past two seasons, Harris will likely remain in a Nuggets uniform for the foreseeable future, but at a significant cost.

Nikola Jokic was also part of the 2014 draft class but he was a second-round pick at No. 41 overall who waited a year to join Denver.

Now one of the top centers in the NBA, the 22-year-old is entering the third year of a four-year contract.

The fourth year is a team option that the Nuggets will likely decline.

Declining the option would make Jokic a restricted free agent in 2018 and he could command a salary starting at $25.5 million.

If the Nuggets exercised Jokic’s $1.6 million option, he would be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.

With possible new contracts for Plumlee and Gallinari as well, the Nuggets’ payroll could soar close to the $124 million luxury tax in 2018-19.

Summer cap breakdown

Guaranteed                                   2017-18                                Insider info
Kenneth Faried                          $12,921,348                         Extension eligible
Wilson Chandler                        $12,016,854
Darrell Arthur                              $7,464,912
Jameer Nelson                           $4,736,050                          Extension eligible
Will Barton                                 $3,533,333                          Extension eligible
Emmanuel Mudiay                     $3,381,480
Jamal Murray                             $3,355,320
Juan Hernangomez                    $2,076,840
Gary Harris                                 $2,550,055                     Rookie extension eligible
Malik Beasley                             $1,700,640
Nikola Jokic                                 $1,471,382                           Extension eligible

Non/partial                                    2017-18                              Guarantee date
Mike Miller                                   $3,500,000                                   July 12

FA cap hold                                    2017-18                                  FA status
Danilo Gallinari                            $22,575,000                    Bird/expected to opt out
Roy Hibbert                                  $6,000,000                                Non-Bird
Mason Plumlee                             $5,821,325                            Restricted Bird

First-round cap hold                    2017-18
Projected No. 13 selection          $2,621,280

Salary table                                    2017
Guaranteed salaries                 $55,208,214
Non-guaranteed                        $3,500,000
Free-agent cap holds                $37,017,605
Salaries: cap                              $95,725,819
Salaries: tax                               $58,708,214
Salary cap                                 $101,000,000
Luxury tax                                 $121,000,000
Cap space                                   $5,274,181
Tax room                                    $62,291,786

Projected cap space

With $55 million in guaranteed contracts, it might seem as if the Nuggets are well below the salary cap.

But factor in $30 million in free-agent cap holds for their own lottery pick, Plumlee, Gallinari and Roy Hibbert and the Nuggets are just $5.2 million below the cap.

There is flexibility however.

A combination of Hibbert and the non-guaranteed contract of Mike Miller could give Denver an additional $9.5 million in cap space.

Gallinari’s cap hold of $22.5 million will be reduced once the free agent signs with the Nuggets or another team.

For cap planning, the room in Denver should project at around $20 million, which would allow Denver to use available cap space to sign Gallinari and Plumlee.

However, with new contracts on the horizon for Harris and Jokic, the Nuggets should not use available cap space outside of their own players unless they are able to land an All-NBA-level player in free agency.

June draft picks

The Nuggets have their own first-round pick, projected to be No. 13.

Denver also has two second-round picks.

The Nuggets have the No. 49 pick (from Memphis) and the No. 51 pick (from Oklahoma City).

Both picks were acquired from Oklahoma City as part of the Joffrey Lauvergne trade.

The Nuggets’ own second-round pick was traded to Houston along with Ty Lawson.

Future draft picks

Denver has its own future first-round picks.

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