If the current rift between the NBA and the Chinese government continues, it could have some adverse effects on the league next season.
Teams are already preparing for that scenario.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Keith Smith, "at least five NBA teams" are beginning to plan for a scenario where the NBA salary cap for the 2020-2021 season could diminish because of the NBA-China situation. Smith has it potentially falling between 10 and 15 percent.
"After all the money everyone spent last summer, this would have a major impact on all of us," a source told Yahoo!
The cap for next season is currently set at $116 million. Doing the math, a 10 percent drop would be $11.6 million less, and 15 percent leaves a $17.4 million decrease.
So, if this does occur and cap space falls, how would this affect the Knicks?
Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry didn't fill any of those two max slots in free agency this summer. Instead, they signed team-flexible deals with the likes of Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington and others. The contracts signed by all of those free agents, with the exception of Julius Randle, are for just one guaranteed season so the Knicks have the option to drop it next offseason.
As SNY's Ian Begley pointed out, the Knicks should be one of a few teams with meaningful cap space in this scenario that the salary cap lessens. They could use it to pursue free agents as well as acquire players in a trade from a team that needs to create space for itself.
It wasn't intended to go this way, but this strategy by Knicks brass looks even smarter if this happens.
The 2020 free agent class isn't the best to begin with, though. Other than Anthony Davis, who can opt back in to his deal with the Lakers anyway, players like Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Jaylen Brown and Pascal Siakam make the list as of now. Even then, Siakam should get an extension after his performance for the championship Raptors. DeRozan also owns a player option in his Spurs contract, and extension talks are expected to start down in San Antonio as well.
For the Knicks, waiting one more year to splurge could be the best bet with LeBron James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert and many others set up to hit the market.
Team brass should be prepared for a shift in the salary cap if it does come through, but maybe not like other teams who could be scrambling to create a good cap situation for themselves.
The Knicks are set up nicely to get rid of contracts if need be to go along with a good amount of cap space to begin with after saving this past offseason.