The New York Knicks' Struggles Could Have A Financial Impact On Players Heading To Free Agency

The New York Knicks are in a state of turmoil. They’re 4-20, they are fighting, and players are revolting against Phil Jackson’s triangle offence.

The Knicks have struggled to learn the triangle offence. 

Many of the triangle offence’s philosophies are outdated. Now, the NBA focuses on high-speed offence that relies on pick-and-rolls and three-pointers, the Knicks’ triangle offence relies on oft-maligned midrange jumpers and a slow pace. Currently, the Knicks play the slowest pace in the NBA.

This is bad news for Knicks players who will enter free agency this summer. Six Knicks will be free agents, while several other players are under “team options,” which the Knicks could reject, thus making them free agents.

As Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal explained, the Knicks’ offence is not doing these impending free agents any favours:

Unlike Mike D’Antoni’s seven-seconds-or-less offence, which helped increase individual players’ values by getting them ample scoring opportunities, the Knicks play in a regimented offence, at the NBA’s slowest pace, that isn’t creating good looks, something that will take a financial toll on several Knick players who are set to become free agents this summer.

Teams are always wary of the “contract year performances,” in which upcoming free agents put up big numbers in the final year of their contract to increase their earning potential on their next contracts.

The Knicks are essentially doing the opposite of that to their players.

One example would be big men Jason Smith and Samuel Dalembert who have seen inconsistent minutes because of their failure to grasp the triangle and/or play solid defence. With limited playing time, their value as free agents next season is minimising. For 33-year-old Dalembert, it could be his last shot at a long-term contract.

Guard J.R. Smith has admitted to struggling with the triangle. He has a player option on his contract, meaning he could opt in next season to make $US6.4 million before becoming a free agent in 2016. If he opts out after his struggles this year, he’ll almost certainly not make close to $US6.4 million in his next contract. If he opts in, it could mean another year of struggles in a contract season.

This is not the Knicks’ management’s fault. Though their choice of offensive system is questionable, players are still responsible for their on-court performances. However, it’s tough for players to buy into a system knowing they likely won’t be around after this year. 

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