Sources: Knicks open to trading for an undesirable contract to acquire an asset

Ian Begley
·3 min read
236184782 knicks general
236184782 knicks general

A note on the offseason: several teams said the Knicks are open to using their cap space to take on undesirable contracts via trade, SNY has learned.

The Knicks would presumably acquire another draft pick and young player in this kind of trade. New York has the No. 8, No. 27 and No. 38 picks in the draft.

The idea of taking a bad contract into cap space could be one of several avenues the Knicks are considering this offseason. Depending on what they decide to do with the contract options for Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, Taj Gibson and Reggie Bullock, New York could have more than $60 million in cap room in the offseason.

The Knicks, who told teams recently they’d be open to taking on a bad contract, have not made decisions on any players with options yet.

NBA teams are waiting to hear the final salary cap numbers for 2020-21. Teams and agents expect those numbers to be available by the end of the week.

Depending on where the tax line is set, some teams may be looking to offload salary to avoid paying the luxury tax. That’s where the Knicks’ willingness to take on an undesirable contract could net a draft pick or young player.

Last offseason, the Clippers received a future first-round pick for taking on Mo Harkless’ contract in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Miami.

Golden State sent a future first-round pick to Memphis in a trade to shed Andre Igoudala’s salary.

Entering the 2019 offseason, Knicks officials had said they weren’t interested in using their sizeable cap space to acquire an unwanted contract and a draft pick because they didn’t want to acquire a player who didn’t want to be with the organization.

New York instead signed several players to short-term contracts to maintain cap flexibility.

The club hoped to compete for a playoff spot last season, but finished with the sixth-worst record in the NBA. Team president Steve Mills and head coach David Fizdale were fired during the season.

This offseason is the first opportunity for new team president Leon Rose to shape the roster in his vision.

There is no consensus yet among teams and agents who are monitoring the Knicks’ offseason approach. Some believe they will look to compete next season; others predict they will operate with an eye toward the 2021 NBA Draft.

Rose has previously said that he and his group will do their due diligence in exploring ways to improve the roster.

Earlier this month, a few teams told people around top draft prospects that the Knicks were looking into trading up for a top pick in this draft. I assume they will continue to look into that possibility as we get closer to the draft.

The New York Post reported a few weeks ago that the club was also looking into trading back in the draft.

These two approaches seem to contradict each other, but it also could indicate that New York is indeed exploring all of its options ahead of Rose’s first draft and free agency.

It’s also worth noting here that agents of some of the top free agents on the market believe the Knicks will consider a potential trade for Russell Westbrook if Houston makes him available. Westbrook is owed roughly $130 million over the next three seasons, though he doesn’t seem to qualify as the kind of player who would be moved in a straight salary dump.