Due to a new clause in the CBA, Allan Houston's NY career is likely over.
I really liked this guy's game. Some called him "soft", but I don't call what he did in 1999 "soft." He burned us and he burned Miami.
Knicks ready Allan tax ax
Deal will allow $40M savings
By FRANK ISOLA
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Allan Houston may want to start pondering a future outside of Madison Square Garden.
SAN ANTONIO - A clause in the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement will likely end Allan Houston's career in New York and save James Dolan millions of dollars in the process.
A person familiar with the negotiations between the league and the players' union told the Daily News the two sides are finalizing a clause that would give teams that pay the luxury tax the option of releasing one player and removing that player's salary from their luxury-tax number.
The Knicks are expected to take advantage of the one-time only offer and would save approximately $40 million if they waive Houston, the oft-injured shooting guard team president Isiah Thomas has been trying to remove from the roster since last year.
Houston, 34, who has played in just 70 games over two seasons because of an arthritic knee, is scheduled to earn $39.8 million over the last two years of his contract. If the Knicks cut Houston, they are still obligated to pay his entire salary, and his contract would still count against the salary cap.
However, the Knicks may be $45 million over the luxury-tax threshold next season and would have to pay a dollar-for-dollar tax. By releasing Houston, who will earn $19.125 million in 2005-06, they would eliminate the same amount that Dolan, the Garden chairman, would have to pay in luxury tax.
The Knicks are likely to be $45 million to $60 million over the tax threshold in 2006-07, the final year of Houston's $100 million contract. By cutting Houston, Knicks would eliminate $20.7 million from their luxury tax.
"I think he's gone," said one league executive. "How could they turn that down?"
Thomas did not return calls yesterday. Five days ago, Houston told The News he "didn't really know" if the Knicks wanted him back.
"But I don't really think about it," Houston added. "I just think about being fortunate enough to continue to play."
The source with knowledge of the contract talks between the league and the union said that the clause, which is being called an "amnesty provision," will be included in the new labor deal. The agreement will not be officially finalized until late July. At that time, teams that have to pay the luxury tax will likely be given a window - approximately one month - to exercise the clause.
There have been rumors of the Knicks and Houston negotiating a buyout, but under the amnesty provision, the Knicks would save more money by releasing him. Of course, the Knicks may first try to convince Houston to retire, which would also be cost-effective while creating an opportunity for them to apply for a medical exception to sign a free agent.
The Knicks began preparing for life without Houston last summer when Thomas signed free-agent shooting guard Jamal Crawford. They currently own two first-round picks in Wednesday's NBA draft and will likely use one of them to select a guard. The club is even debating whether to either draft or trade for a point guard and move Stephon Marbury to shooting guard.
Houston's relationship with Thomas soured the moment Thomas broached the subject of retirement. However, Houston's one ace in the hole is Dolan, who signed the shooting guard to the richest contract in franchise history in July 2001. Dolan has a close relationship with Houston and the two have been known to play golf together during the offseason.
But it's hard to imagine that Houston's ties to Dolan are worth $40 million to the Garden boss. The Knicks won only 33 games last season and haven't won a playoff series since 2000. Houston went out of the lineup for good on Jan. 21 and can't say for sure whether he will be ready for the start of training camp in October.
DON DOINGS: Former Knicks head coach Don Chaney is a candidate to join Avery Johnson's staff with the Dallas Mavs.
DOLAN 'EM OUT
How James Dolan and Knicks will save big time by buying out Allan Houston:
Houston is owed $39.8 million over the next two seasons.
THE WAY OUT
Under new CBA, Knicks have one-time option to buy out any player. Money still counts against the salary cap, but not luxury tax.
WHAT THEY'LL SAVE
With Knicks likely $45 million over cap, they would have to pay a dollar-for-dollar luxury tax. Therefore, cutting Houston would save them $19.125 million next year. In 2007, Knicks will be $45-60 million over cap and will save $20.7M in luxury tax.
IN THE END
Knicks save $39.8 million in tax and rid themselves of Houston, who played just 20 games last season.