Unsurprisingly, Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire have elected to opt in to the last years of their contracts.
The New York had three members of their roster with player options for the 2014/2015 season: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani.
The worst case scenario for the Knicks was that Anthony would opt out, seeking greener pastures, and Bargnani and Stoudemire would opt in, costing the Knicks nearly $35 million combined next year.
This nightmare scenario became a reality last week when we learned that Carmelo Anthony would indeed opt out of his contract and that Bargnani and Stoudemire would take up the vast amount of money available to them in New York.
Stoudemire is owed $23.4 million next year, making him one of the most overvalued players in the NBA. Formerly one of the league’s premier big men, Stoudemire has suffered a rapid decline in ability over the last few years.
The money owed to him this year is the result of the huge contract he signed in 2010, when he moved away from the Phoenix Suns, where he had become a perennial All-Star.
After enjoying one of the best years of his career during the 2010/2011 season, the lockout shortened season a year later marked the beginning of his fall from stardom.
Weight gained during the lockout hampered his numbers that season and then a devastating knee injury saw him play only 29 games in the 2012/2013 season. This injury not only deprived Stoudemire of playing time but affected his explosiveness and dynamism. He has never looked like the player he was when he arrived in New York and he averaged only 22.6 minutes per game last season.
In Bargnani’s case, it is slightly more difficulty to have sympathy for the Knicks. Bargnani was taken with the 1st overall pick of the 2006 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors and has never been able to shake the ‘bust’ label that was stamped on him after his first few seasons in the league.
While the 7-foot Italian did eventually become a solid NBA starter, averaging 21.4 points per game during the 2010/2011 season, his consistently poor field goal percentage and injury prone nature should have warned the Knicks away from trading away Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson and three future draft picks, including a first rounder, for Bargnani’s ugly salary. Mortgaging their future for an asset such as Bargnani is looking sillier by the day.
With Anthony potentially walking away from the Big Apple and these two ugly salaries on board, it’s going to take some wily wheeling and dealing for the Knicks to do anything but hit the reset button next season.