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Who will the Knicks Buy out Next?

With the Knicks coming to town, it gives me an opportunity to do one of my favorite things - bash Isiah Thomas.  I just re-read last December's edition, and I must say, it always brings a smile to my face to see how lame the Knicks are.

One of the most obvious admissions of a mistake in the NBA is to buy out and/or waive a player with a guaranteed contract.  Someone on your roster is clearly not worth what they are being paid, to the point where you would rather they simply not be on your team.  It is a painful decision from a financial standpoint, but in some cases the best thing for the team going forward.

Most teams never waive a guaranteed contract, but it does happen from time to time.  Often a player who was included in a trade to make the salary cap math work is immediately waived by the receiving team, who never actually wanted that player in the first place.  The most embarrassing form of buy out of course is when you have to buy out a contract that you negotiated in the first place.

By my count, the Knicks have bought out five players in a less than three years - Shandon Anderson, Jerome Williams, Maurice Taylor, Jalen Rose and Dan Dickau.  And who knows, I may be missing some.  In addition to those five, Allan Houston retired during that time.  Combined, those six players cost the Knicks about $70M while they weren't playing for them - and you can double that given that the Knicks annually pay the luxury tax.  You can't really hang all of the Allan Houston money on Isiah - the guy's knees went bad.  But still, that's astoundingly bad fiscal management.

And here we are again, back on the buy out watch.  The New York Daily News used the dreaded b-word in association with Stephon Marbury, owed $42M for this season and next season, suggesting that the Knicks were trying to reduce his role or get rid of him.  And right on cue, the petulant Starbury skipped practice in Phoenix today and the Knicks aren't really sure where he is right now.  So if Starbury is your favorite player and you were hoping to see him tomorrow night at Staples, you may be out of luck.  (Of course, if Starbury is your favorite player, you have other issues.)

Who knows if the buy out rumors are true?  If nothing else, Marbury's reaction will certainly fuel the rumors, and now, even if the Knicks weren't thinking about it before, they may have to.  One thing is for certain - as the 3rd highest player in the NBA (Update [2007-11-13 21:7:33 by ClipperSteve]: make that 3rd highest paid player) (only KG and Shaq make more, believe it or not), he's not remotely tradeable.  

Of course, there are other buy out candidates on the Knicks' bloated roster.  How about Jerome James (owed $18.6M over 3 seasons)?  James is injured and out indefinitely, in addition to sucking quite unindefinitely (that is, he definitely sucks).  By the way, here's what Isiah had to say about James' injury:  

When we got Eddy Curry, that really changed everything.  The injuries for him, that's part of the game, I feel bad that he's been injured. That's how it goes sometimes in this league. Injuries are part of the game.

Isiah and the Knicks signed Curry less than 2 months after they signed James.  So the fact that 'everything really changed?'  That was Isiah changing it, because apparently he can't think more than a couple days into the future - forget about two whole months.  When Isiah was later asked if injuries are part of the game, he replied 'Yes.'

Then there's Malik Rose (owed $14.7M over two seasons).  Rose has played 18 minutes so far this season and has yet to score or pull down a rebound.  He is paid over $86,000 every single game to do this.

So while Marbury appears to be on the inside track to be the next Knick buy out, neither James nor Rose should be counted out.  (On any other team, Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Quentin Richardson, Jared Jeffries and Jamal Crawford would look really overpaid - on this team, they are friggin' bargains.)

As you might imagine, keeping all this dead weight (a lot of it in the case of Jerome James) around can make the usual roster crunch especially difficult.  Indeed, consider the plight of a couple of 2007 second round draft picks.

Demetris Nichols was the 53rd pick in the 2007 draft.  Drafted by Portland, he was included in the Steve Francis for Zach Randolph deal, essentially in a side deal that sent the Knicks' 2008 second round pick to the Blazers.  Nichols was waived prior to the beginning of the season.  The Knicks gave up next year's second round pick and got nothing in return.

Jared Jordan was the 45th pick, drafted as you know by the Clippers.  On Sept. 30th, directly prior to the beginning of training camp, the Knicks obtained Jordan in exchange for cash considerations.  Less than a month later they waived him.  Sure, it only cost them money, and apparently that has no value to the Knicks, but it sure seems strange to go to the trouble of acquiring a guy prior to camp only to cut him before the season.  Presumably they knew the roster was crowded before they acquired him.  I mean, Isiah can count to 15, right?

So even though Isiah has proven to be very good at one thing, evaluating talent in the NBA draft, his accumulated other problems are now limiting his ability to improve the Knicks through the draft.  For one thing, he has continually traded away high draft picks for overpaid players (not one but two lottery picks for the privilege of giving Eddy Curry $50M).  Now he's got so many bad, long term contracts on the team, he can't keep his second round picks.

And since this post is about the Knicks roster, I won't even bring up the fight with the Nuggets last year or the law suit.