The Knicks went from being a money-burning loser to a cost-effective playoff team with two superstars in just a few years under Donnie Walsh. How cost effective? They brought in a second superstar last season in Carmelo Anthony after paying through the nose for Amar’e Stoudemire, and they still dodged the luxury tax. From the New York Post:
Give former Knicks president Donnie Walsh a pat on the back. The NBA announced yesterday its audit for the 2010-11 season is complete and, according to a person familiar with the situation, the Knicks did not pay a luxury tax for the first time since the now-expired collective bargaining agreement was reached in 1999.According to a person debriefed on the audit, the Knicks 2010-11 payroll finished over the salary cap following the Carmelo Anthony bonanza, but finished at $67 million — $3 million less than the luxury-tax threshold.
via Knicks avoid luxury tax – NYPOST.com.
Naturally Donnie Walsh stepped down after the season because James Dolan wanted more of a commitment from him and they’re still searching for a replacement, but really, things are great!
It’s still pretty notable what has been done to the Knicks. The Knicks used to overpay for a terrible team and now they underpay for a playoff contender, even if they’re not going anywhere without plunking down serious money for a supporting cash. Then again, there’s no telling if the new salary cap will allow them to spend. That’s got to be a concern in these CBA talks for owners like Dolan or the Heat’s Arison. They need to maintain the ability to spend around their superstar players. The Knicks were under the luxury tap this year, which is great for them. But if they want to take a step forward, they need upgrades, which won’t be possible without any room under the new cap.
Unless they rollback salaries. And then things get more and more complicated.
Eric Bledsoe reportedly requested a trade from the Suns before the season then tweeted yesterday:
After sending home Bledsoe today, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough explained his rationale:
The hair salon! What a wonderful excuse.
Is it true? I’m not going to call Bledsoe a liar. It might be.
It’s also probably true that Bledsoe isn’t long for Phoenix.
In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.
This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.
At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.
Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.
But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.
Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.
But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.
Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.
Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:
“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”
The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.
There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.
But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.
Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.
Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:
In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.
It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.