If the NBA’s salary projections hold true, the Knicks may be facing slightly stiffer competition this summer in trying to re-sign Carmelo Anthony. They also may have an easier time executing a sign-and-trade involving Anthony.
The NBA has informed teams that it is projecting a rise in the salary cap of nearly $5 million for next season, sources familiar with the forecasts told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Sources told Stein that all 30 teams were told this week to expect an increase in the cap from this season's $58.6 million to $63.2 million in 2014-15. A corresponding rise in the luxury-tax threshold from $71.7 million to $77 million is also projected, sources said.
So what does this mean for the Knicks?
First off, it makes it easier for New York to execute a sign-and-trade involving Anthony. In order to complete a sign-and-trade, teams that receive Anthony in a sign-and-trade need to be under the salary "apron" following the trade. If the new projections hold, it means the apron will increase to $81 million. So the extra $5 million of space makes the sign-and-trade easier to execute.
(UPDATE: An earlier version of this article misstated that the Knicks needed to be under the "apron" to complete a sign-and-trade. The team that receives Anthony needs to be under the apron.)
Secondly, the projected increase in the cap means teams who are interested in signing Anthony as a free agent will now theoretically be able to offer him a little more money.
The new cap projection for 2014-15, if it comes to fruition, would represent a 7.7 percent increase over this season.
The NBA, according to ESPN.com contributor Larry Coon, typically expects a season-to-season rise of 4.5 percent.
So, if this holds, teams like the Rockets and Bulls can potentially offer Anthony a first-year salary that is a little closer to the maximum 2014-15 salary that the Knicks can offer. New York can offer Anthony a first-year salary of $22,458,401, according to ESPN’s salary cap guru Larry Coon.
So Anthony will still have to take a significant paycut to sign with a new team.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, the Knicks can offer him a maximum contract of $129 million over five years. Other suitors, such as Chicago and Houston, can offer Anthony a maximum of $96 million over four years.
It should be noted that the Bulls and Rockets would both have to move significant players from their roster to create enough salary cap space to make a competitive offer to Anthony.
The Bulls currently have $63.8 million on their books for 2014-15.
So the Bulls would have to amnesty Carlos Boozer and then trade a player making significant money to a team that could absorb the salary in order to have enough space to sign Anthony to anything close to a max contract.
Same goes for Houston.
The Rockets currently have $71.9 million on their books for 2014-15, so to cut enough money to make any kind of play for Anthony, the Rockets would have move serious money.
Both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik are going into the “poison pill” season of their contracts. But if Houston were to trade them, it would remove only the average salary of Asik and Lin’s contract ($8 million) from the books rather than the $30 million that the players (combined) will make in 2014-15.
So both Houston and Chicago would have to make major roster alterations if they want to sign Anthony as a free agent.
But the projected salary cap increase means Houston and Chicago won’t have to work quite as hard as they originally thought. It also makes executing a sign-and-trade to acquire Anthony a bit easier.
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