Exceptions available: Taxpayer’s mini midlevel (starting at $3.3 million), veteran’s minimum deals.
1. What can they do to retain Carmelo Anthony?
Make an offer, and hope. As Phil Jackson pointed out last week, Anthony's free agency is really out of the Knicks' control at this point. Carmelo will meet with the Bulls, Mavericks and Rockets this week to hear what those teams have to offer. The Knicks will likely stay in contact with Carmelo, but they've already met with him several times and each side largely knows where the other stands. So the Knicks have to hope that Anthony trusts in Jackson enough to believe that the Zen Master can build a winner around him. One question remains: Will they offer Anthony a max contract?
2. Who can they get if Carmelo leaves?
They won't have an opportunity to replace a player of Carmelo's caliber in free agency. The Knicks are expected to be either over the salary cap or slightly under if Carmelo walks, so they won't have much money to offer free agents this summer. Contracts for Amar'e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani will come off the books at the end of the 2014-15 season. At that point, the Knicks will have plenty of cap space to make a run at big-name free agents.
3. What money can they offer free agents this summer?
The Knicks currently have the taxpayer’s mini mid-level (starting at $3.3 million). If Anthony signs with another team, they are likely to have the full midlevel exception (starting at $5 million). They will also be able to offer veteran’s minimum deals. So in the best-case scenario, the Knicks will have $5 million to offer free agents this summer. This can be split among multiple players.
4. So who's going to be available for the Knicks?
ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne reported that Jackson will go after Pau Gasol. Gasol would have to take a big pay cut to end up with the Knicks. He made $19 million last season and would likely command significantly less on the open market. But, as the roster currently sits, he'd only be able to sign a contract with a first-year salary of $3.3 million with the Knicks. So the Knicks will probably have to go bargain shopping this summer. Look for names such as Steve Blake, Patty Mills, Jordan Hill and Kris Humphries to surface.
5. What about the younger guys on the roster?
The Knicks did not make Murry a qualifying offer and he will be an unrestricted free agent. This means that New York could lose Murry. The combo guard is expected to draw interest from several teams.
The Knicks also have to make decisions on their young big men, Aldrich and Tyler. Both impressed in separate stretches last season. The Knicks have a team option on Tyler. He’s not a “younger guy,” but the Knicks also have to make a decision on Lamar Odom. His contract is not guaranteed for this coming season.