The New Normal
What will the next three months look like?
Before we get into today’s letter, a quick word on what you should expect to find in this newsletter for the foreseeable future, what with the NBA essentially shut down for what seems like the next three months (more on that in a bit).
As we all readjust our lives to deal with what’s coming (and really, what’s already here…many of us just don’t realize it yet), I think it’s a good idea to try and maintain some kind of structure. So that’s what I’ll try and do here as well.
On the to-do list for my wife and I for today, for example, will be planning out what every day is going to look like for at least the next five weeks, and likely longer. When is she going to set time aside for the “work” part of “work from home”? When will I try to “remotely” teach algebra I to my ninth graders? When will we attempt to institute this fantastical idea we’ve heard about called “independant playtime” with our three-and-a-half-year-old daughter? And of course, when am I going to write this newsletter?
We’ll figure all that out, as I’m sure you and yours will as well. For our purposes here, this is what I’m thinking.
Monday: General column - I’ll write about some larger Knicks-related issue, and ideally something topical for the moment.
Tuesday: Film study - I’ll dig into some aspect of a player’s game using film from this season and maybe even past seasons to show how that player has developed (or stagnated).
Wednesday: What If? - There are so many “sliding doors” moments in Knicks history, and I think it would be fun to explore what might have taken place if a few of them went the other way.
(Throwback) Thursday: Knicks Moments - Reliving some of the greatest moments in Knicks history. I may rely on y’all to share some of your memories of certain events. Keep an eye on Twitter for calls to action, and S/O to reader Patrick Notaro for this suggestion.
Friday: Top 10 - I love reading lists. Hopefully you will do. This week, I’m looking forward to jumping off Bro’s Tweet from this weekend for the first one.
I’ll obviously adjust as needed along the way, but this is the plan, and I’ll continue to include a news & notes section to update you on any relevant happenings as they occur.
I also want to make this time as interactive as possible, so if any of you have anything you want me to share in here - pieces you’ve written, book recommendations (I could use some myself), recipes you finally have time to make that worked out great, whatever - hit me up at KFSMailbag@gmail.com (I know I have some emails sitting in there…I’ll get to them, I promise).
On that note, let’s talk about basketball, or rather, how long we’ll be without it, and what that means…
According to Woj, “NBA owners and executives are bracing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for the league's return.” He continues:
The NBA likely will provide projections on three primary scenarios: the financial costs of shutting down the season, restarting with no fans in the arena, or playing playoff games with fans. Those losses will be reflected in next season's salary cap and the players' share of basketball-related income.
It doesn’t seem like any of those options include playing any more regular season games. As I wrote on Friday, I thought that if there were any more regular season games scheduled, they would merely be in service of getting every team to the same number of games played, and allowing every team to play at least one more game, with the target number being 68.
That would have meant two more games for the Knicks, but it also would mean five more dates for two teams (the Spurs and Lakers) who have only played 63 games.
That seems like a lot to squeeze into what is already a very condensed proposed timeline. Would the league be comfortable with allowing teams to finish the season with an uneven number of games played? It certainly seems possible.
But how would San Antonio feel about that? If they played (and won) all five and Memphis played (and lost) the three games they’d have to play to get to 68, there would be a tie for the eighth seed. The Spurs have a two-decades-and-counting playoff streak they’re quite proud of. Who knows how this plays out?
In terms of how this affects the Knicks specifically, Jeremy Cohen and I got into it on today’s podcast, with Jeremy coming up with some batshit-crazy scenarios that show the true depths of his depraved mind. I was envious.
In short, the most likely outcome of all of this (as Woj states above) is that the league’s salary cap (currently slated to be $115 million) and luxury tax ($139 million) limits are both highly likely to go down.
This would seem to be good news for the Knicks, who have fewer committed dollars on their cap for next year (assuming they let go of all the players with $1 million guarantees - Taj, Elf, Wayne and Reggie) than any teams in the league besides Atlanta and Detroit (and with John Collins extension-eligible and Christian Wood up for a new deal, New York could even be in a better financial position than those teams as well).
One other tidbit in the Woj piece worth noting is this:
Organizations must evaluate the short- and long-term implications of this season's stoppage, including future sponsorships and ticket renewals. Many owners are feeling the sting of not only the loss of NBA games, but the loss of concert dates and other events in darkened arenas.
The takeaway here is that with the impending financial crush that’s about to alter everyone’s lives, there’s a real possibility that owners across the league are going to start pinching pennies far more than they otherwise would have.
One one hand, this could work to the Knicks’ benefit in several ways, including:
More teams wanting to dump salary to avoid paying a luxury tax they thought they were going to steer clear of. Right now, it’s just Philly and Golden State that are above the tax line, but that could change to include Brooklyn, Houston and Milwaukee as well…and that’s not even counting teams who want to use an exception that would get them into the tax if they don’t make another move;
An increase in the value of certain draft picks, and the cheaper salary that comes attached to those players;
A bear market in free agency, and the opportunity to sign players on the (relative) cheap, and finally…
As Jeremy stated on th epod, more players wanting to sign one-year deals this summer in an effort to jump back into the pool in 2021, when the league is likely to have rebounded from its doldrums.
On the other hand, James Dolan is one of those very owners whose pennies are being pinched. Aside from the Knicks and Rangers, MSG derives a ton of income from concerts and the like. There’s a reason he was hesitant to want to shut the season down, after all.
With Knick ticket prices being what they are, and with tourism to New York sure to be slowed for the foreseeable future as the entire world will be recovering financially, there’s a real chance Dolan will want to do everything in his power to make sure the Knicks put a winning product (or at the very least, an entertaining one) on the floor and keep fannies in those seats.
(Yes, I’m heavily implying a possible Chris Paul trade, which I wrote about for SI.com over the weekend. I can’t quit the idea that this will be a thing at some point, shutdown or no shutdown. We also know that Thunder owner Clay Bennett has a history of pinching pennies himself, and maybe the possibility that a team could take both Paul and Steven Adams off his hands would have some appeal)
I won’t spoil it, but Jeremy and I discuss a much cheaper pathways to this end on the pod, and let’s just say it’s a fun one.
Point being: It’s far too early to know how exactly the Knicks are going to be effected by all of this, but it’s entirely possible they come out better for what’s going on.
Hey…I’ll take any silver lining I can get.
News & Notes
compiled by Michael Schatz (@mschatz99)
Stef Bondy had a piece about the Knicks targeting Cavs’ capologist Brock Aller for a front office position with the team. It’s nice to know that Leon Rose is using this time to hopefully do his due diligence and scour the league for possible upgrades to the Knicks’ front office (Jeremy and I discussed further implications of this on the pod as well).
Reader Jason Felman wrote about the latest Knicks inflection point. Give an upcoming blogger a minute of your time!
Finally, I’ll continue to update this story as I get more info, but things seem to be heading on the right track in regards to MSG paying their part-time employees:
That’s it! See everyone for some film study tomorrow morning!