Now that the New York Knicks' season has ended with a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics, the franchise -- which made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2004 after signing Amar'e Stoudemire and trading for Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups -- has a quick decision to make. According to previous reporting by Mark Deeks of ShamSports.com, the Knicks have until five days after the end of their 2010-11 season to decide whether to waive Billups.
If Billups is waived, the Knicks only owe him $3.7 million for the 2011-12 season. Otherwise, Billups will be on the books for a $14.2 million contract. This applies to both Billups' actual salary and his cap figure; the Knicks can open up $10.5 million in cap space by waiving him.
However, the decision's not quite that simple, largely because the team's depth at point guard is abominable and because even if the Knicks waive Billups, the team won't be far enough under the salary cap (wherever it ends up in the new collective bargaining agreement) to address the point guard position and any other need.
Before accounting for Billups, the Knicks have $41 million in salary locked up next season, per ShamSports.com. Waiving Billups would put the total at about $45 million; keeping him would put the Knicks at $53 million. For an indication of how much good point guards cost, Raymond Felton -- who signed with the Knicks last summer and was traded to the Nuggets -- was a steal at $7 million a year.
Expect Knicks fans and reporters to become laser-focused on Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, because that's what New York sports culture does, and the successful trade for Carmelo Anthony will only embolden them. More realistically, the team will keep Billups, given how shaky the point guard market looks.