Is it possible the New York Knicks could have a brighter future without Carmelo Anthony?
That's open to debate, but consider the following scenario. If the Knicks gave Anthony a maximum contract, he'd be owed $25.3 million for the 2015-16 season. The roster could change, but here's where the Knicks would stand based on current contracts for the summer of 2015:
Anthony $25.3 million
Jose Calderon $7.4 million
J.R. Smith (likely opt-in) $6.4 million
Pablo Prigioni $1.7 million
Tim Hardaway Jr. $1.3 million
1st-round draft pick and six minimum salaries: $5 million
Total = $47.1 million; Projected cap space: About $18 million.
Enter the Bulls with this sign-and-trade scenario. They send Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell and the nonguaranteed contracts of Ronnie Brewer, Mike James and Lou Amundson to New York for Anthony and Smith. In a separate deal, the Bulls could trade Anthony Randolph for Prigioni. Throw in a future first-round pick if it helps. Boozer, Dunleavy, Randolph and Snell are under contract for one more season, which leaves the Knicks with this group on the books:
Calderon $7.4 million
Hardaway $1.3 million
1st-round draft pick and nine minimum salaries: $4.8 million
Total = $13.5 million. Projected cap space: More than $50 million in a summer when the free agent list could include Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, among others. The Knicks also get to keep their own first-rounder in 2015. Which is a better scenario for Phil Jackson?
In this plan, the Bulls could pay Anthony a maximum salary over four years, while keeping a lineup of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Doug McDermott. The Bulls would try to use the midlevel exception on Nikola Mirotic and hope to re-sign Kirk Hinrich for the minimum salary. If the Bulls don't want J.R. Smith, cut him. They'd still come out ahead by not having to amnesty Boozer.