Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden against the Miami Heat may not just be the last game of the season for the 2011-12 New York Knicks, but it may also be the final time fans get to see many of these current players in a Knicks uniform.
One thing is certain and that’s the Knicks will have a far different look in 2013.
Only Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Josh Harrleson, Jerome Jordan and Iman Shumpert are under contract for next season. That’s six players owed a whopping $57.2 million in 2013.
The Knicks do have a $2.1 million team option on point guard Toney Douglas and J.R Smith holds a $2.5 million player option which he more than likely won’t exercise. With the salary cap set to be a flat $58 million next season, the Knicks don’t have much wiggle room.
New York owns just the mid-level exception (expected to go to Jeremy Lin), the $2 million bi-annual exception and the veteran’s minimum. There are provisions in the new CBA that should make it so the Knicks can retain both Lin and guard Landry Fields (restricted free agent).
Basically what that amounts to is the likes of Smith, Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Jared Jeffries, and unfortunately Steve Novak will all need to be replaced by players working at or near the minimum salary.
It will be very tough to see Novak take perhaps his final shot in a Knicks uniform on Sunday, but basketball is a business and after the season Novak had, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage (47.2 percent).
The six-year vet became a fan-favorite at the Garden and averaged career highs in scoring (8.8 PPG) and minutes (18:53).
However after the season he put together, Novak will certainly command more than the $1 million he made this season.
Novak’s situation is similar to Shawne Williams’ last season. Both are unsung forwards who emerged to become sharpshooters. That doesn’t bode well for the Knicks. Last year, Williams said, “This is where I want to play at.” He ultimately signed with the Nets.
Unfortunately the next time the clock hits triple-zeros and the Knicks are behind on the scoreboard, it won’t just be the end of a roller coaster season. It will also be waving bye to a couple key pieces to this season’s team.
When the season ends for the Knicks, general manager Glen Grunwald must get right to work. He’s got a lot to do, not only signing players, but deciding on a full-time head coach as well.
Along the way, it would be nice to see if he could find a way to keep a guy like Novak in a Knicks uniform. He turned out to be a weapon that will ultimately be very tough to replace.