This may come as a surprise, but there was some promising speculation that came out about the New York Knicks this week.
Sources told SNY’s Ian Begley that the Knicks are open to taking on an undesirable contract to acquire an asset, like a draft pick or a young player. New York, with its slew of non-guaranteed contracts on its payroll, could renounce all those players and have as much as $60 million in cap space in a shortened offseason when only the Knicks, Pistons, Hawks and Hornets are expected to have meaningful room.
With the salary cap expected to remain at $109 million for next season, per Shams Charania of The Athletic, there are going to be teams that will want to dump salary over the next month or so, especially with revenue down across the board without ticket sales. Instead of acquiring a player like Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook who would take up too much cap space and take away shots and playing time from the guys they’re trying to develop, the Knicks could actually build their roster the right way through asset accumulation.
Here are some players who could be available to the Knicks, though this is all speculative, based on teams’ cap situation, through salary dumps:
Taurean Prince, forward, Brooklyn Nets- After getting a two-year, $25 million contract extension that kicks in next season, Prince was very underwhelming for the crosstown rival Nets. With Joe Harris likely to command a huge contract in free agency, could Brooklyn attach its 19th overall pick in next month’s draft to offload the 26-year-old?
Thaddeus Young, forward, Chicago Bulls- This one is less likely than Prince, since the Bulls seem to want to make a playoff push after hiring Billy Donovan as head coach. But with two years and nearly $28 million due to the 32-year-old, though reportedly only $6 million is guaranteed in 2021-2022, maybe new Chicago management finds a free agent it likes and need to offload Young’s salary. The Bulls have control of all their future first-round picks, but certainly won’t want to deal the 4th overall pick next month in this situation.
Andre Drummond, center, Cleveland Cavaliers- Sure Drummond is looking for a contract extension, but he’ll probably end up opting in to the last year of his contract at $28.7 million. Is there a situation where the Cavs give up an asset to dump that huge deal elsewhere? Sure, but it’s also in the unlikely pile for the Knicks. Cleveland controls all its future firsts along with a protected 2022 first from Milwaukee that could be valuable if Giannis leaves the Bucks.
James Johnson, forward, Minnesota Timberwolves- The 33-year-old veteran role player would be a fool not to pick up the $16 million option on his contract. And if Minnesota tries to swing a big trade involving the first overall pick, the Knicks would be a useful third team to take on Johnson’s salary along with some draft compensation or a young player for their troubles. It’s how Memphis got a first rounder last year from Golden State to take Andre Iguodala’s contract and should be what Leon Rose is hunting for.
Cory Joseph, guard, Sacramento Kings- If new Sacramento management wants to add salary this offseason, it could try to offload the Canadian reserve, who’s due $25.2 million the next two seasons, though reportedly only $2.4 million is guaranteed in 2021-2022. Maybe the Knicks could get a second rounder or a young player in some kind of deal there.
Al Horford, forward, Philadelphia 76ers- With Daryl Morey entering the fold in Philly, he’ll have to encounter the albatross contracts of Horford and Tobias Harris signed last season. Horford has three years and $81 million left on his contract, so it would take a lot of salary for the Sixers to take on if they wanted to get players back. Or it could send a team like the Knicks multiple draft picks and/or enticing players to just take Horford’s deal off their hands. It could be something Morey considers, and the Knicks would be in a good position to make that kind of trade.
Other players contenders could look to offload, though this is all speculative, include Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks, the L.A. Lakers’ Danny Green, Denver’s Will Barton and the L.A. Clippers’ Patrick Beverley. These are the types of players the Knicks should be looking to take in addition to draft picks instead of wasting their cap space on Paul or Westbrook.