We don't have 2.5 Mil to offer Novak. We only have the BAE (Bi-Annual Exception) which is about 1.9 Mil, and the MLE which will probably be used on Lin. And the BAE can only be done for 2 yr contracts at most. Given a choice of 1.9 Mil per year for 2 yrs vs. another team that offers Novak a 3 yr deal at 3 or 4 Mil a yr, Novak is gone. Even if we signed Novak for the BAE for 2 years, with a 2nd year opt-out, so that we can pay him more the second yr using Early bird rights, that's still less than a 3 yr deal at 3 or 4 mil a yr from another team, quite a bit less.
The 2.5 Mil Room Exception we gave JR Smith was a one-time deal, from the "Stretch Provision" of Amnestying Billups/Tyson Chander signing. We're not getting 2.5 Mil to spend again next season. JRSmith can get a lot more than 2.5 Mil on the open market, so he's not picking up his option.
Other teams will probably offer Lin at least MLE. Gilbert Arenas provision means no team can offer Lin more than MLE for the first two years. They don't have to backload, but they may, if only to force the Knicks to match and go into luxury tax hell, so that the tax proceeds will go into the pockets of those lesser teams, as well as to cripple our salary cap for years to come. And if the Knicks don't match (they will), then the gamble pays off and they snag a money machine and decent starting pointguard for a cheap MLE. Regardless, our MLE for the next two years will be going to Lin. Which means we won't be able to use our MLE next year or the year after to get a new player. Say goodbye to our MLE for the next two years. Though we're still getting a bargain since Lin can fetch more than MLE on the open market if not for Gilbert Arenas, so we're already getting a discount. Any other team would love to be in our place of keeping Lin for MLE.
I don't see anyone making a major play for Fields. We have no money to keep JR or Novak, both of which will be targeted by other teams. JR can make more than 2.5M, Novak can make more than 1.9M on the open market.
JR Smith got paid 6Mil a yr in his last yr of his Denver contract, so he'll want at least MLE, which the Knicks won't be able to give him.
As for giving Novak the BAE:
BAE for 2 yrs would be 1.9M x 2yrs = 3.8M as the max we can offer Novak in a 2 year contract.
BAE for 1 yr of 1.9M + opt out and re-sign via Early Bird for MLE the 2nd yr = about 7~8M over 2 yrs
A 3yr contract for 3~4 Mil = 9~12M for 3 yrs.
Quite a difference between 12Mil guaranteed and the 3.8Mil via BAE or 7 Mil Knicks can offer him even with Early Bird rights. A contract of a larger size would make the disparity even greater. So, it's unlikely we can keep Novak, even assuming no one offers him MLE. The BAE is just not enough, even with Early Bird opt-out and re-sign.
Though I suppose that means we have the 1.9 Mil BAE to spend on someone else if we need to.
We're re-signing Fields, either for a sign-and-trade, or to keep and develop. Why? B/c the only replacement options are minimum guys. We have no cap space and no 1st round draft picks, and keeping players we own the Rights to is the only way you can proceed if you can't get new quality players via $$$ or drafting. And at least we know Fields can be a useable bench or rotational guy at the very least. Better than many of the minimum guys on the scrap heap that either suck, or will play well for a season and then leave us for more money (since we don't have their rights or cap room to keep them, a la Novak).
Jeffries will probably stay unless D'Antoni ends up somewhere else and comes calling. Jared likes NYC, and may not mind taking minimum again. Though I suppose it's possible that a contending team who needs to shore up the defense on their bench might try to steal him away if they have cap room. But such contenders are probably either maxed out or have higher priorities to target with any spare change.
Baren Davids may stay or he may go. He's still getting paid by the Cav's who amnestied him, so he's not hurting for money and may stay if he thinks he has a chance to win a ring here. But he might leave for money or ego reasons. Money since any new contract money would be in addition to the Cav's money, and this might be his last chance to get a semi-decent multi-yr deal, even as a backup pg (Knicks have no money to offer). Ego if his body heals up and he wants starter minutes on a crappy small market team instead of reduced playtime as backup to Lin on the Knicks. Or maybe a bit of both if he thinks he can get a decent money+multi yr contract as a backup on a likelier contender than the Knicks. Fair chance he may just stay b/c he likes NY. Who knows. We probably won't be able to get anyone better to replace him for Minimum -- crappy though he may be at times, he may still be better than the other Minimum salary options. So some teams who have really crappy backup PGs might want to steal Baren Davids away, thinking he'd be an upgrade over their even crappier backup PGs.
I haven't seen enough of Gadzilla yet to form much of an opinion, though I don't think there's demand from other teams to target him. He seems like a dime a dozen guy. Bibby will stay if we want him, especially if Woodson stays, since they have rapport and history together.
The main problem, as always, is our cap or lack thereof. We made our bed and now we have to lie in it and make do as best we can. Ballooning salaries tied up in annual raises for the big 3 of Melo/Stat/Tyson + no MLE for next couple of yrs sacrificed to Lin + draft picks traded away to other teams. Just going to have to hope the FO keeps finding diamonds in the rough like Lin and Novak in the Minimum scrap heap.