Jeremy Lin
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Knicks could be in a position where their mid-level exception matters. Here are a few of their options in free agency.

The NBA’s mid-level exception is a rule that allows teams with no salary cap left to sign players using a deal that is just a bit over the minimum salary. Basically, it allows franchises with big stars the cap flexibility to build competent teams around them. Recently, the Warriors have used it to keep the talents of Shaun Livingston as well as add the talents of DeMarcus Cousins.

The New York Knicks don’t have any “big stars” to build around at the moment, but come early July, all of that could change. Assuming the Knicks do end up using their two available max slots, the mid-level exception could come in handy. Here are five candidates that could fill the role perfectly.

Reggie Bullock

I’m not going to knock Reggie Bullock because Lakers fans expected him to walk into their dysfunctional environment and fix all their problems. In fact, Reggie’s time with the Lakers is the only reason he’s a mid-level exception candidate in the first place. Had Reggie stayed on the Pistons the entire season, he would have probably outgrown the mid-level exception and would be due for a $6-to-8 million dollar payday this July.

Anyway, Bullock offers crucial three-point shooting (37.7%) for a Knicks team that ranked 28th in the league last season in three-point percentage (34.0%). Beyond being a spot-up shooter, Bullock is a solid perimeter defender. He’s your classic 3-and-D player that can be so valuable on a contending team.

JaMychal Green

JaMychal Green offers cheap depth at the four and the multiskilled forward can contribute in a variety of ways. He’s a 40% three-point shooter and averaged over six rebounds per game last season. He’s also a versatile defender with the ability to switch onto guards in pick-and-roll situations. Honestly, if the Knicks are going all in next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if Green took away some starting minutes from Kevin Knox.

Isaiah Thomas

Does Isaiah Thomas have anything left over in the tank? It’s a fair question. Just two years ago Isaiah took the league by storm. He was averaging 28.9 points per game on 46.3% shooting from the field and 38% shooting from three-point range.

But following a far more severe hip injury than originally expected, Thomas has now seen three different teams in two seasons and has failed to impress at every destination. It’s entirely possible that he could never even work himself into the every-game rotation while on the Knicks. But at the very least, he would provide an offensive spark (at times) along with some veteran leadership.

James Ennis

James Ennis isn’t great at anything. But he’s serviceable at everything. It’s part of the reason he’s been on six teams in four seasons. He’s not essential to the operation, but he will help it. Last season he averaged 6.7 points per game on 47% shooting from the field and 35.3% on three-pointers. See what I mean? None of those numbers are exceptional. But they are all serviceable.

Jeremy Lin