Too often over the past two decades, the front office of the Knicks (often fueled by the owner) has wildly spent mediocre talent or traded for former stars from past years involved in albatross contracts.
However, during his first off-season launch as president of the Knicks in basketball operations, Leon Rose showed impressive patience and acted purposefully.
Knicks certainly did not make any explicit signatures, but avoided handing out large contracts (such as agreeing to pay Gordon Hayward $ 120 million over four years). In fact, each of the additions to the free agents in New York has signed one-year contracts, which will allow New York to enter the star bonaza for free agencies from 2021 with more than 70 million dollars of space. There are currently no players on the guaranteed contract list that extend to 2022-23.
And the Knicks still have about $ 18 million to take. For this reason, Leon Rose and the company have a lot of flexibility in redesigning the list and can have intriguing creative opportunities. In addition to the limited sales space, New York has a significant supply of available capital that it can offer in potential trade negotiations. In fact, over the next five years, the Knicks had the second largest number of drafts (first and second rounds together), following only the OKC Thunder.
So, let’s look at some players that New York could potentially target deals:
* Lonzo Ball – New Orleans Pelicans:
Pels swapped Jury Holiday with Milwaukee, but got Eric Bledsoe in return. Bledsoe will earn $ 18.1 million in 2021-22 and is scheduled to make $ 19.4 million in 2022-23 (however, only $ 3.9 million is guaranteed). The Pelicans also have combo guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker (overall pick of the top 20 2019) on the list, as well as Josh Hart and Alabama defender Kira Lewis, who has just drawn a point with their choice of lottery in the project for the past week. With New Orleans signing Brandon Ingram for a five-year, $ 158 million deal this week and signing Stephen Adams for a $ 35 million two-year extension, they’ll also be ready to sign the Ball for a lucrative extension next season when he become a limited free agent? From Knicks’ point of view, they would like to upgrade to the point, but have to ask themselves if they are willing to give up assets such as future drafts and young players. Or, assuming Rose believes Ball is a legitimate starting guard, try kidnapping him at the free agency next summer?
* Nicola Batum – Charlotte Hornets:
That’s all about the cap. Batum’s limit for 2020-21 is $ 27.1 million. To open up the necessary restraint needed to complete Gordon Hayward’s signing, the Hornets must first give up and stretch Batum (which will result in Charlotte paying Batum $ 9 million a year for each of the next three seasons) or find another team to take over the Batumi pact. New York has already cleverly rented out $ 5 million to take over Ed Davis’ contract from Utah, as a result of which New York is netting three future selections for the second round. Knicks would almost certainly want first-round compensation in exchange for eating Batum’s huge salary.
* Ty Jerome – OKC Thunder:
Thunder GM Sam Presti brilliantly turned Chris Paul earlier this month, but OKC still has a lodge in the guard. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the most promising young guardsmen in the league and is expected to enter about 36 minutes a night next season (he averaged 34.7 MPG even with CP3 in OKC last year). The Thunder also have George Hill and Theo Maldon on the list and the newly signed underrated PG Frank Jackson. OKC acquired Jerome, the 24th overall pick in the 2019 project, in the CP3 swap. Jerome struggled with injury and inefficiency as a rookie, but during his career at the NCAA in Virginia he was an elite scorer (over 39% of center) and a solid passer (averaging 5.5 assists against just 1.6 turnovers in juniors while led the UVA to a national championship). For Leon Rose, it’s definitely worth calling Presti to see if that’s what he wants for the young sharp shooter.
* Victor Oladipo – Indiana Pacers:
Mark Berman from New York Post announced last month that “two Dallas first-round picks (2021, 2023), Julius Randall and Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina could whet the Pacers’ appetite,” but that’s just too much for a player who there was no significant knee injury and only one year ($ 21 million) remained under his contract. If New York is actually interested, wait until he proves he’s healthy and then hit the free agency.
Russell Westbrook – Houston Rockets:
* Kevin Huerter or Cam Reddish – Atlanta Hawks:
The Hawks made an extremely impressive off-season by signing two of the best free agents on the free market, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Galinari. They also signed Chris Dunn, Rajon Rondo and Solomon Hill, and traded for Tony Snell (who will win $ 11.4 million this season). In addition, Atlanta prepared De’Andre Hunter in 4th place in the project for 2019. Thus, it will be interesting to see whether the Hawks will consider parting with one of their guards or forward to lighten the wing lodge. Both Huerter and Reddish were considered key elements of Atlanta’s future, but for head coach Lloyd Pierce it will be a challenge to find enough minutes to keep everyone happy.
* DeMar DeRozan – San Antonio Spurs:
There have been sporadic rumors about Knicks’ possible interest in DeRozan, but I don’t see a scenario in which such an exchange makes sense for either side. After DeRozan chose his $ 27.7 million player option for 2020-21, he will join the free agency next season. Lottery-affiliated Knicks should not be targeted at veterans, and it’s safe to assume that DeRozan would prefer not to be a one-year lease in New York.
* Monte Maurice – Denver Nuggets
After Fred VanWell decided to sign with Toronto again (although New York wanted to respond to the Raps’ four-year offer, a $ 85 million offer), the Knicks agreed to return Elfried Peyton to a one-year deal. Morris will earn a paltry $ 1.7 million next season before becoming an unlimited free agent in 2021, when he expects to make money. The Nuggets would certainly like to keep Morris for the long term, but after signing PG Jamal Murray for five years, a $ 170 million maximum contract extension last summer, there is only so much money a team can invest in one position (especially as given that they owe $ 40 million to Gary Harris over the next two seasons). In this way, it is possible (if unbelievable) for Denver to consider moving the stable and reliable Morris to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing through a free agency.