Free Agent Stock Watch: Steve Novak

Back in December of 2011, the Knicks were able to pry Tyson Chandler away from the world champion Mavericks after Dallas was unable to make a more lucrative and long-term contract offer to the 7'1'' center. In July, the Knicks could face a similar scenario with sharpshooting forward Steve Novak, who becomes an unrestricted free agent after this season. This is not to imply that Novak's value is equivalent to that of a player such as Chandler or that he undoubtedly deserves to have teams clamoring to outbid each other for his services. However, his performance this season should not go unwarranted nor his impact in free agency be ignored.

In 17.6 MPG off of the bench, Novak averages 8.5 PPG while shooting a league-best 47.9% from three-point range on 5 attempted threes per game. He has hit at least four long-range shots in 13 of his 43 games as a Knick and has had some standout three-point shooting performances this year: 6-for-10 against Portland, 5-for-8 against Utah, 5-for-9 at Toronto, 4-for-5 against Dallas, 5-for-10 against Atlanta, 4-for-5 at Miami, and 4-for-7 at Boston to name a few. At 6'10'' and with a cat-quick release on his shot, Novak could arguably be among the top utility players to hit the free agent market this summer. 

I would expect that that the Knicks would do everything in their power to retain their ace-shooter, however history has shown that shooting specialists can get paid handsomely. Kyle Korver, off of his third year as a member of the Utah Jazz, accepted a 3-year, 15 MM offer from the Chicago Bulls after the 2010 season in which he shot 53.6% from deep en route to 7.2 PPG in 18.3 MPG. Just half a season removed from winning the inaugural 3-point shooting competition during All-Star weekend as a member of the Miami Heat, forward Jason Kapono agreed to a four-year, 24 MM offer with the Raptors in 2007. Kapono boasted averages of 10.9 PPG while shooting 51.3% from three with the Heat during the 2006-07 season. 

The Knicks, who are only armed with their mid-level exception, bi-annual exception, and the veteran's minimum this summer, will also have to handle the contract statuses of Jeremy Lin, Baron Davis, and Jared Jeffries in addition to Novak. Should New York find itself using most of their mid-level to retain Lin, they may not have enough to entice Novak to stay if he receives a more lucrative offer elsewhere. 

Also, if the bi-annual exception maintains its value at around 2.18 MM this summer, other teams who possess the mid-level exception or even the mini-mid level exception of about 3 MM per year (for luxury tax-paying teams) are still in a position financially to make a better offer. Outside shooting will always be in demand in the NBA, so while there may not currently be an explicit list of teams that have Novak on their radar, it will be an intriguing development to follow in July, especially for Knicks fans. 

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