The Gospel of Smoov

Free of obstructed views and fair-weathered opinions

Not-So-Perfect Timing

The following post will be featured on the BeatKnicks blog of Aerys Sports.

It’s finally okay to be a Knicks fan again. They have their first winning record since 2001. The 42-40 was good enough for a playoff berth. While it only amounted to a four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, there’s still a lot to be excited for. Amar’e Stoudemire willingly put the team and the city on his back and left it all on the court every night — much like Patrick Ewing did during his 15 seasons in New York. Add in the 2nd superstar in Carmelo Anthony, the experience of Chauncey Billups and a supporting cast that stepped up at any given moment … you have a team on the rise that can challenge for the NBA title in a few seasons. You can’t help but think to yourself, Nothing can stop the Knicks now!

Of course, the lockout strikes on July 1st. Figures, right?

The main sticking point in labor negotiations (not that there have been many recently) has been the owners’ insistence on a “hard” salary cap, preferably one significantly lower than the $58 million set for 2010-11. As it currently stands the Knicks have nine players under contract for 2011-2012 at a total of $60,610,763. Most of that money is tied into Anthony and Stoudemire (both set to earn north of $18 million), plus $14 million for Billups*. That $60 million does not include forward Derrick Brown’s qualifying offer, nor does it include the potential rookie contracts for guard Iman Shumpert and center Josh Harrellson. And lest we forget the fact that the Knicks still need a center and shooters. Oh, and it doesn’t help that Donnie Walsh was forced to walk away after saving the franchise from salary cap hell.

I’d love to go into who the Knicks should target in free agency to fill the necessary holes, but the uncertainty of a new CBA makes it difficult to fully gauge who will be available and at what cost. You can judge for yourself by checking out the free agent classes for 2011 and 2012. But what we’re looking at is a Knicks team that desperately needs not only a higher salary cap, but one that is “softer” and allows for exceptions to exceed it. Otherwise, we could be headed for yet another dark period of being the red-headed middle child stuck in the NBA’s dreaded purgatory.

And quite frankly, we don’t want to see THIS again:

*This was the main reason I was against including Raymond Felton in the deal and taking back Chauncey.

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