If the arbitrator rules in favor of the Players Union, then it can impact the Knicks immensely.
That would essentially let us sign Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin without using any of our exceptions, and because of that give us the freedom to acquire better talent to play with ‘Melo and Amar’e.
Some unrestricted free agents would include: Lamar Odom, Raymond Felton, Shannon Brown, Grant Hill, Kenyon Martin, and our very own J.R. Smith. All of the players listed are in our price range for the MLE, and could be courted to come play in the “Mecca of Basketball” for less than they are worth.
I would put Lamar Odom and Raymond Felton at the top of my personal list as they have roles to play on this team.
It is unclear so far if Jeremy Lin is a lock to start, and even if he does it is important to have a solid back up point guard. Felton damaged his value this past season which puts us in a perfect spot to pick him up for less than market value.
Same goes for Odom contract wise, but he serves an even more important purpose on this team. He can defend, rebound, and most importantly make his own shot. He would be leading our second unit, and as we saw in Los Angeles he does a pretty good job in that capacity.
As far as the beloved/hate J.R. Smith, he wants more than his current player option according to sources around the league. I think he can help this team for his current paycheck, but it may not be worth giving up a chance at one of the players listed above. He can shoot you in and out of games, and this season played with quick hands that tend to lead to deflections and steals.
There are a few bigger names out there that will be hard to convince to sign for the around 5.2 million dollar exception we could have available if Jeremy Lin gets to use early bird rights. Some include Aaron Brooks (restricted) , Steve Nash, Ray Allen, O.J. Mayo (restricted), and Marcus Camby.
Ray Allen and Marcus Camby stick out huge for me.
Allen has long been rumored to be considering leaving the Celtics due to his diminished role after the rise of Avery Bradley. He is the perfect fit for this team. He does not need many touches to be effective, he can defend well enough, and can fill the need of starting shooting guard.
Camby has played for the Knicks before, and it would be fantastic if he did it again. He is a former defensive player of the year, and would pair up amazingly with our own current defensive player of the year, Tyson Chandler. Camby could come in when Chandler or STAT need a rest, and defend the paint. This past season when Chandler took a breather there was often a large hole defensively.
This is all speculation, but it might as well be worthless if the arbitrator rules against the union. Jeremy Lin would eat up our entire MLE, and Steve Novak might go elsewhere for more money. This would put us in a tough postion in terms of adding talent.
If you have any spare time between today and June 13th, I would advise you to spend that time praying that the Players’ Union wins, because a win for them is a win for the New York Knicks.