If Phil Jackson was never fired: 2017 Free Agency
Knicks Buyout Carmelo Anthony
The Knicks had very little interest in buying out Carmelo Anthony back in 2017, even though Anthony’s management tried to engage them in discussions. That situation escalated when Phil Jackson asked James Dolan to buy out the $54 million owed on Carmelo’s contract, which contributed to his eventual firing. However, if James Dolan listened to Jackson, the Knicks would have bout out the star forward’s deal and freed up about $26 million in cap room. It would have been an arduous financial burden on Mr. Dolan, but let’s imagine if the Zen Master got his way (Jim Buss learned the hard way).
Before all the moves, the Knicks were projected to have $18.5 million in cap room, if they renounced Derrick Rose and Justin Holiday’s cap holds and declined Marshall Plumlee and Chasson Randle’s deals. Factoring in the Kristaps Porzingis trade and Anthony’s buyout, the Knicks would be projected to have $39.2 million in cap room for the 2017 offseason.
Knicks sign George Hill
The New York Knicks are clearly rebuilding ahead of the 2017-18 NBA season, and cap space is of the least importance. Understanding that Frank Ntilikina is a project and should start the season on the bench, in this alternate universe, Phil Jackson signs George Hill to a three year, $57 million deal, with a partial guarantee on the third year (same contract he signed with Sacramento).
The Knicks get a veteran mentor for the young Ntilikina in George Hill, who still has a lot left in the tank at 31-years-old. Coming off a season where he averaged 17 points per game, Hill will be a valuable scorer and facilitator next to Jaylen Brown and Josh Jackson. Hill also has a career three-point percentage of 38% and shot 40% in his last two years. He gives the Knicks spacing and is a good fit in the triangle offense.
Knicks sign Ersan Ilyasova
To address the lack of shooting on the team, the Knicks sign Ersan Ilyasova to a one year, $8 million deal. Ersan averaged 13.1 points and 5.9 rebounds the season prior with the Sixers, Thunder, and Hawks. He accepts a one year “prove it” deal and will battle Lance Thomas for the starting power forward job. Much like Hill, Ersan’s value to the Knicks comes as a seasoned veteran and a valuable three-point shooter.
The Knicks pick up Ron Baker’s $1.5 million team option. They also bring back Sasha Vujacic on the minimum to reinforce the triangle. They also sign Chasson Randle and Luke Kornet to two-way contracts.
Knicks Depth Chart (*Denotes Two-Way Contract)
PG: George Hill, Frank Ntilikina, Ron Baker, Chasson Randle*
SG: Jaylen Brown, Courtney Lee, Damyean Dotson, Sasha Vujacic
SF: Josh Jackson, Mindaugas Kuzminskas
PF: Ersan Ilyasova, Lance Thomas, Jaron Blossomgame, Luke Kornet*
C: Kyle O’Quinn, Willy Hernangomez, Joakim Noah