For the Knicks, 2015 is a long-awaited paradise, the land of cap space and honey.
For the first time since signing Amar’e Stoudemire four years ago New York, projects to have significant cap room.
However, Phil Jackson is already willingly cutting into it for a player unlikely to make this season’s rotation.
After some initial uncertainty, the New York Knicks plan to pick up the third-year contract option for guard Shane Larkin, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Larkin will cost the Knicks $1,675,320 in 2015-16. That’s not much for a 22-year-old point guard whose college production and leaping skills made him a first round pick, even though he struggled as a rookie with the Mavericks.
However, every dollar of cap space matters.
How much room does New York project to have for free agents in 2015?
A few assumptions:
- J.R. Smith exercises his $6,399,750 payer option
- The Knicks don’t extend Iman Shumpert’s contract but do give him a qualifying offer
- New York keeps Pablo Prigioni, whose contract is partially guaranteed
- The Knicks also exercise Tim Hardaway Jr.’s third-year option
- New York gets the No. 10 pick in the 2015 draft
- The salary cap is $66.3 million
Obviously, many decisions and variables will affect that number, but it’s a good baseline estimate.
Right in the middle of max-contract range, do the Knicks really want to devote so much to Larkin?
I think the pivotal question: If necessary, could New York dump Larkin next summer without giving another team a sweetener? That would require Larkin to improve this season. It’s a low bar. I think he’ll clear it, but it’s no guarantee.
The Knicks are taking a small risk here, one I think they’re right to take, but it’s a risk nonetheless – one that could affect their ability to attract a max player next summer.