You can’t fault Phil Jackson for trying. The New York Knicks’ President has reportedly contacted the Philadelphia 76ers in hopes of shedding Amar’e Stoudemire’s ballooned salary to gain more flexibility in free agency. Nevertheless, it’s doubtful even the Zen Master can pull-off the necessary mind trick it would take for Philly to agree to such a deal.
The news is courtesy of the New York Post’s Marc Berman. As a sweetener for taking on Stoudemire’s $23.4 million contact for next season, Jackson has included the oft-shopped Iman Shumpert in his pitch to the Sixers brass.
Knicks president Phil Jackson is still trying to clear this year’s payroll and has looked at avenues to try to trade Amar’e Stoudemire’s expiring contract, already having contacted the obvious team, the 76ers.
The Sixers have $30 million in cap space and have made it known they’d be willing to accept an undesirable expiring contract if a pawn is thrown in. That extra pawn likely would be Iman Shumpert — something the Knicks prefer not to do.
The idea is, at the least, to reduce payroll so the Knicks can make a sign-and-trade to obtain a free agent and be able to wield the full mid-level exception of $5 million instead of mini-mid-level $3.27 million. Currently, the Knicks are above the luxury-tax apron and are forbidden to obtain a free agent through a sign-and-trade or use the full mid-level to try to lure free agent Pau Gasol.
If any team would be willing to accept Stoudemire’s inflated salary in a trade, it would surely be the 76ers. GM Sam Hinkie has no qualms trading for such players if doing so nets his team an asset; Philly’s ongoing discussion with the Houston Rockets for the stranded Jeremy Lin are just the latest example of that mindset.
But with no draft picks of substantive value until 2018 to offer in any trade and the league’s interest in Shumpert waning, Jackson is severely hamstrung in his attempts to deal Stoudemire. He’s similarly limited in talks surrounding Andrea Bargnani, too, a player that Berman’s report says Jackson is actively shopping.
The combined $35 million that Stoudemire and Bargnani are owed next season is the main deterrent to New York improving its roster through free agency. With Carmelo Anthony legitimately undecided on his future but sure to command a max-level salary if he re-signs with the Knicks, the team would have approximately $58 million tied up in three players for 2014-2015. And though both Stoudemire and Bargnani are in the final season of their contracts, the mere potential of future roster improvement might not be enough to convince Carmelo to stay with New York; Jackson wants to upgrade his team now so that’s not an issue.
Gasol has reportedly been a target for the Knicks since before free agency began, and New York is being severely outbid for his services with Stoudemire and Bargnani on the books. It’s even unknown if Gasol will accept the midlevel exception from a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder or Chicago Bulls, let alone a contract worth nearly half that much.
If Jackson can’t get a deal for Stoudemire done with the Sixers, he surely won’t complete one at all. This is the problem inheriting a team that spent and swapped with only the present in mind for so, so long. That previous strategy will be mostly in the past once 2014-2015 is over, but there’s no telling if Anthony is comfortable choosing to sign with a franchise only boasting the possible, let alone waiting a year for it.
Jackson and the Knicks certainly have other aspects in their favor when it comes to Carmelo’s recruitment. But the lack of flexibility exhibited by this ill-fated attempt to trade Stoudemire could ultimately be what dooms them.
Will Jackson be able to trade Stoudemire?
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