The Cats can offer just as much money if not more than the Knicks. The Cats will have around $20 million in cap space and are around $25 million under the luxury tax.
You're overvaluing the defensive aspect of the game. MKG averages the least amount of minutes from all the starters yet we still have a top give defense. Big Al has proven he can play defense, Henderson is a solid defender; Melo isn't great at defense but he makes up for it with his offense. Cody Zeller will also be a really, really good defender once he gets a little more muscle. He's made more great defensive plays than anyone on the roster. Kemba is really the only defensive liability on the court.
Also a sign and trade doesn't make sense when we can give him a max contract.
The Cats currently have 44 mil wrapped up in the following players...
SG: Henderson, Taylor, Neal
PF: McRoberts, Zeller
C: Jefferson, Biyombo, Haywood
- Pargo and CDR can each be signed for the min ($1 mil each)
- Our first and second round picks will make a combined $1.5 mil. That wouldn't be too bad if you could Napier and Payne for $1.5 mil.
That puts the Cats at $47 mil... The luxury tax is at $72 million. The Bobcats could offer Melo $25 mil before going into the luxury tax and getting fined. Melo currently makes $23 million.
The only problem is that because of the way they redid the last CBA the team the player is leaving can give 1 extra guaranteed year and a bigger salary escalator than a team just signing the player. It amounts to roughly 30 million extra dollars and an extra year over the life of the contract. I don't see melo passing up that money. I'm not saying it isn't doable I just don't think it is likely he straight signs here.
Also one more point, melo spends a lot of his time at the 4 now. It fixes the mkg issue but we still need to unload/flip hendo and get a sg that spaces the floor. This also makes Zeller much less useful. In theory he could still get 20+ minutes a game off the bench but it seems like a waste of a guy with talent.
Another problem with maxing out for melo is how it affects resigning kemba when his contract expires(applies to other young pieces/bench guys also). We would get pushed pretty far into the luxury tax and not sure how willing mj is to pay that.
However this is likely all a moot point as I see melo going to Chicago or staying in New York as much much bigger possibilities than coming here.
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