July 16, 2024

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What’s next for the Knicks after avoiding a tough salary cap hit in the Mikal Bridges trade?

What’s next for the Knicks after avoiding a tough salary cap hit in the Mikal Bridges trade?

The New York Knicks have avoided the dreaded salary cap on the first floor. While the legal jargon surrounding collective bargaining agreements isn’t the most provocative topic in sports, it changes the way the team approaches the rest of the postseason.

Here’s what Thursday’s news means:

New York have made a deal to sign Mikal Bridges, league sources say. The athletea move that has been likely since they agreed to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets on June 25. New York will now include 27-year-old forward Mamady Diakite and free agent guard Shake Milton, who will sign and trade, according to league sources. Brooklyn will add Keita Bates Diop.

The original structure of the deal (Bojan Bogdanovic and a package of draft picks for Bridges) required New York to get back more money than it sent, which would have limited their payroll to $178.1 million. Had New York not adjusted the deal, their payroll would have been just $5 million less than that figure, which they could not have exceeded under any circumstances. The flexibility would have been reduced.

Now, that won’t happen.

New York’s addition of Milton and Diakite’s salaries to the deal is not intended to save money, but to open up new horizons.

Since New York is now getting back less money than it sends in trades, and avoiding the hard cap at the first apron, it may risk going up to the second apron of $188.9 million, which it is now about $15 million short of.

That’s enough room to re-sign big man Precious Achiuwa, who can earn $5 million a year to a little more, and use the mid-level taxpayer exception, a $5.2 million tool that allows the Knicks to sign a free agent up to that price.

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Finding a backup center is complicated, as The athlete It was detailed on Wednesday. There aren’t many viable free agents left without contracts. Every hypothetical deal is a hurdle, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement.

The New York Knicks lost former starting center Isaiah Hartenstein at the start of the free agency window. Mitchell Robinson will take over the starting unit. Jericho Sims will stay. But there is a solid backup for Robinson missing.

Achiuwa may be the right man for the job — or the team may prefer a more solid player in the middle of its second unit. Either way, the Knicks may enter training camp now knowing that if flaws arise, whether at center or elsewhere, they can be addressed during the season.

If New York were to trade another quarterback, they wouldn’t need to spend their remaining draft capital — the Detroit Pistons’ 2025 first-round pick (protected through next year’s top 13 picks, with protection that could prevent it from moving until 2027) and first-round trades in 2026 and 2030 — right away. (They also have a ton of second-round picks, plus the Washington Wizards’ 2025 first-round pick, which is heavily protected and likely to move as two second-round picks after the 2025-26 season.)

If they want, they can re-sign Achiuwa, use the taxpayer minimum on any remaining free agent who makes the most sense, regardless of position, and see how the 24-year-old backup quarterback performs in the role. Achiuwa played at five a lot last season but could struggle against the brutal presence of the paint. If things go badly, they could pair Achiuwa and the minimum-salary signee together in a deal for an eight-figure salary before the February trade deadline.

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According to league sources, New York’s preference has always been to extend Bridges’ deal. The team has drawn up scenario after scenario, plotting ways to avoid a tough cap hit in the first apron. When the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets originally agreed to the deal, New York made it clear it would come back at some point with more details, a league source familiar with the negotiations said.

The New York Knicks executive is obsessed with flexibility on the sidelines. And they didn’t handle this situation any differently.

Adding Milton and Diakite to the Bridges deal wasn’t the only money-saving move the team made Thursday. The team also agreed to 2024 first-round pick Bacoum Dadiet on a contract that includes one surprise. It’s cheaper than expected.

First-round player contracts are negotiated in advance by the players’ union on what is called a “rookie scale,” which includes the proposed salaries for each pick, from Nos. 1 to 30. First-round players can sign for as little as 80 percent of that number or as much as 120 percent of it. Rookie contracts rarely come in at less than 120 percent, so much so that a player’s maximum salary isn’t his rookie scale salary; it’s actually 120 percent of his rookie scale salary.

But on Thursday, the Knicks and Daddit signed a contract that will pay the 18-year-old winger just 80 percent of his rookie ladder in 2024-25, according to league sources, creating an additional $904,000 in cap space under New York’s second apron.

The last first-round pick to sign at just 80 percent of the rookie metric in the first year of a contract was Kevin Porter Jr. in 2019.

The New York Knicks also signed Tyler Kulick, the No. 34 pick in last week’s draft, to a four-year, $9.1 million deal, according to a league source. The deal includes a team option for a fourth season.

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The final version of Bridges’ deal includes as many confusing details about the collective bargaining agreement as it began with.

Technically, New York is still sending more money than it’s getting back. Melton’s new deal is worth $9 million over three years, according to league sources. The athleteShams Charania. The final two seasons are not guaranteed. Diakite gets $2.3 million in 2024-25. A league source said the Knicks will guarantee at least some of that to make the numbers work.

But if we do the math, New York is technically making seven figures more than it sends out… that is, until we factor in a single clause in the collective labor agreement that would save it.

Since Payet Diop is on a minimum salary, the Knicks could accept him under the minimum exception, which would count him as open minded Salary for nets but not Incoming The New York Knicks’ salary is $188.9 million, which means Milton’s salary plus Diakite’s salary is enough to save the team, which means their salary cap will be $178.1 million instead of $188.9 million.

If the Knicks want to make more moves, they now have the space to do so.

(Photo: Mike Lowry/Getty Images)