Knicks 2021 Free Agency Notes: Sources say NY in active pursuit of a guard

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Reggie Jackson with Clippers
Reggie Jackson with Clippers

A few free agency notes:

Taj Gibson agreed to a one-year, $2.7 million deal to return to New York, agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports told SNY.

Gibson was instrumental in the Knicks’ 41-win season last year. And he has a close relationship with Tom Thibodeau. So most fans/observers assumed Gibson would re-sign with New York.

But Gibson had significant interest from other clubs during the free agency period, per a team source. The Knicks conveyed to Gibson how important he is to the culture they’re trying to build – both on and off the court – and to the club’s future, the source said. That message factored in to Gibson’s decision to pass on offers he’d received from other teams and sign with the Knicks.

Gibson will be signed via the veteran’s exception. So his salary will not count against the Knicks’ cap space.

Other cap notes: Derrick Rose’s deal with the Knicks is expected to be via the Early Bird exception, sources confirm. So the Knicks should have roughly $8 million in cap space left over following the deals agreed upon with Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks and Evan Fournier.

All of the contracts agreed to on Monday were not fully guaranteed in the final season, SNY has learned (immediately after the Burks deal was agreed upon, SNY reported that it would be fully guaranteed. We regret the error).

So the Knicks will have flexibility on the Noel, Rose and Burks deals entering the 2023-24 season. Fournier has a team option in the fourth year of his deal. New York has structured deals with options on the end throughout Scott Perry’s tenure as GM (as a point of comparison, the final year on Kelly Olynyk’s deal with Detroit is a team option, sources confirmed).

With regard to the Knicks’ remaining cap space, New York remained active in pursuit of a guard on Tuesday, per SNY sources.

Some guards remaining on the market include Dennis Schroder and Reggie Jackson.

All have been under consideration by New York as potential options if the club missed out on top point guards on the market. Newsday earlier reported that Rose’s deal is likely to be via the Early Bird exception.

Knicks had shown interest in Bullock sign-and-trade

There was a point during free agency where New York and Dallas were interested in exploring a sign-and-trade that would send Reggie Bullock to Dallas, SNY has learned. It's unclear if the sign-and-trade possibility was pursued/has been pursued after Bullock committed to the Mavericks.