The Knicks seemed to have a deal in place within the first minute of free agency with Ron Baker. It is unusual for such a low-level role player to be such a high priority for the Knicks, but it sure made plenty of fans happy to see him return.
For a guy who doesn't really have a defined role, $9 million over two years is a lot of money. The Knicks probably could have kept him for less, and they certainly did not need to give him a player option. He is either going to opt out if he outperforms his contract this year, or he will force the Knicks to give him $4.5 million next year if does not live up to his deal.
The important thing to note here is not the fact that Baker is getting overpaid - his contract is not going to kill the Knicks as much as the Joakim Noah or Tim Hardaway contracts. It is more about the way that the Knicks could have allocated the money in different areas to set up for more long term flexibility.
The first contract move was to sign Damyean Dotson to a two-year contract. He performed well in Summer League and looks like he could be a rotation player. The Knicks signed him to a two-year fully guaranteed deal. Had they not given Baker the full mid-level exception, they could have signed Dotson to a three-year deal at the minimum, which would have been a low-cost, high upside move.
The Warriors made the same mistake with Nick Young this year, which meant that Jordan Bell could only get a two-year deal as well.
Perhaps the most perplexing decision was letting Justin Holiday walk to the Bulls. Despite showing plenty of promise for the Knicks, he returned to the Bulls on basically the same deal that Baker got. The Knicks looked better with Holiday, and that deal was certainly not unreasonable for him.
Ramon Sessions will likely be the worst starting point guard on opening night. That is not necessarily a bad thing for the Knicks in terms of the direction of the franchise, but a couple of extra million could have landed them someone like Tyler Ennis who has a bit more upside.
The Knicks have had the right ideas this off-season, but have really overspent and given out extra incentives that did not need to include. It is by no means a horror of an off-season, but the execution was not great.