2024 NBA Offseason Preview: New York Knicks

The Knicks‘ 47-35 record in 2022/23 was their best mark since the days of Carmelo Anthony and Mike Woodson, and their first-round triumph over Cleveland last year was the team’s first playoff series win in a decade. So the fact that they were even better in 2023/24 was no small feat.

This year’s Knicks improved their record to 50-32, and while they didn’t advance any further in the playoffs this spring than they did in 2023, they put up a stronger fight in the second round, taking a 3-2 lead over Indiana before a series of injuries caught up to them.

Jalen Brunson, who began heading down a path toward stardom in his first year as a Knick, completed that journey this past season, finishing fifth in MVP voting and claiming a spot on the All-NBA second team. He set new career highs in points (28.7) and assists (6.7) per game while providing crucial availability (77 starts) for a Knicks team that battled the injury bug all season long.

Brunson’s emergence as a legitimate star raises the team’s ceiling on the court going forward and changes the outlook for the front office. It seems safe to assume that head of basketball operations Leon Rose won’t be looking to acquire a ball-dominant guard (like, say, Donovan Mitchell) anytime soon.

Brunson has become the star point guard New York had been missing for so long, reducing any urgency the club might have felt to package assets in a trade for an impact player. Most of those assets are still on hand and could be used on the trade market if the right opportunity arises, but the Knicks can afford to be patient in waiting for that right deal, shifting their focus to wings, forwards, and big men rather than lead guards.

While the Knicks’ injury woes may have prevented the club from making a deeper playoff run, they created opportunities for players who otherwise wouldn’t have played such substantial roles. Isaiah Hartenstein, Donte DiVincenzo, Miles McBride, and Precious Achiuwa were among those who thrived upon taking on additional responsibilities. That should pay off in the long run, assuming New York is able to keep its roster intact (Hartenstein and Achiuwa are free agents, as is midseason acquisition OG Anunoby).

Running it back with a similar group would give the team one of the NBA’s deepest rosters once Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Anunoby, and Bojan Bogdanovic are back to full health. And, having seen the way those reserves performed in increased roles, the Knicks are in position return to the trade market confident they’ll still have plenty of depth even if they give up multiple solid rotation pieces in a deal for a single player, like they did when they gave up Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett for Anunoby in December.

Knicks fans have had a rough go of it for the last couple decades, but the team’s future looks brighter now than it has at virtually any other point in the 21st century.

The Knicks’ Offseason Plan

Re-signing Anunoby is an important first step for the Knicks this summer. The former Raptor is one of the NBA’s best three-and-D players – he has a .383 3PT% over the past five seasons and an All-Defensive nod under his belt – and his impact in his first 23 games as a Knick was undeniable. The team’s net rating during his 802 regular season minutes was an incredible +21.7. New York’s offensive rating (122.6) and defensive rating (100.9) during those minutes both would’ve ranked first in the NBA.

Anunoby’s injury history is a concern. He has been unavailable for at least 29 games in three of the past four seasons (he missed 15 in the fourth) and was on the shelf for most of the second-round series vs. Indiana last month. Plus, if a cap-room contender like the Sixers or Thunder gets involved in the bidding, his price as a free agent could rise higher than what the Knicks would prefer to pay. But New York didn’t acquire him to be a rental, and he’s been such a perfect fit that it’s hard to see the club letting him get away unless a rival suitor comes in with a long-term, maximum-salary offer.

Another team could offer Anunoby up to a projected $182MM over four years; the Knicks would likely be more comfortable with something in the four-year, $140-150MM range. We’ll have to wait to see if that’ll be enough to get it done or if they’ll face a decision on whether to match (or top) a higher bid.

The decision on Hartenstein should be a bit more straightforward. Since the Knicks hold the big man’s Early Bird rights, they’re limited to offering him a 75% raise on his previous salary. That works out to a starting salary around $16.2MM and a maximum four-year total of approximately $72.5MM. New York will have to determine whether it’s comfortable offering that full amount, which would be a significant investment in a player who is coming off a two-year, $16MM deal and who was averaging just 17.0 minutes per game before Robinson went down with his ankle injury.

It’s possible – but not certain – that another team would be willing to go even higher than $72.5MM over four years for Hartenstein, a reliable defender, strong rebounder, and good passer. An oversized short-term deal that guarantees him a substantial amount of money in the next couple years could also be an option for a team trying to steal him from the Knicks. However, the 26-year-old is said to be seeking long-term security and has spoken highly of his experience in New York, so if the Knicks make him a competitive offer, my guess is he’ll accept it, like Malik Monk did with the Kings’ Early Bird offer.

Re-signing both Anunoby and Hartenstein would be a big win for the Knicks, but it would also be expensive. Let’s pencil in a $35MM starting salary for Anunoby and assume Hartenstein gets his maximum first-year Early Bird salary. That’ll increase the Knicks’ total guaranteed salaries for 2024/25 to about $158MM for nine players, assuming Jericho Sims‘ inexpensive team option is picked up (which should be a lock)

If we assume the team guarantees Bogdanovic’s full $19MM salary (it’s currently partially guaranteed for $2MM), we’re up to nearly $175MM for 10 players. The Knicks don’t have to hang onto Bogdanovic, though recent reporting has suggested they probably will. He wasn’t great after the midseason trade that sent him from Detroit to New York, but Bogdanovic has been a reliable scorer and shooter for years and his expiring contract could serve as a useful salary-matching piece in a trade.

Bringing back those three players would push the Knicks’ team salary above the luxury tax line without accounting for either of their first-round picks. Or restricted free agent Achiuwa. Or unrestricted free agent Alec Burks. Or players to fill out the rest of the 15-man roster. It’s possible the club’s total salary could ultimately surpass the second tax apron in that scenario.

I don’t expect that to happen though, since being a second-apron team would prohibit the Knicks from aggregating player salaries in a trade, which would seriously hinder their ability to be opportunistic if and when a star becomes available. I expect the front office to make a concerted effort to at least remain below the second apron, and perhaps below the first apron too — operating over either apron would prohibit the Knicks from taking back more salary than they send out in a trade.

Avoiding one or both aprons would mean making a sacrifice somewhere else on the roster if both Anunoby and Hartenstein re-sign (if one of them walks, it likely won’t be an issue). Maybe that means waiving Bogdanovic. Maybe it means moving Robinson — a deal with the Thunder could make sense, given their rebounding woes, their available cap room, and their collection of draft assets. Achiuwa might also be a cap casualty unless the Knicks can get him back at a pretty favorable price, and I’d expect New York to trade at least one of its first-round picks (at No. 24 and 25), opening up that roster spot for a minimum-salary player.

While the Knicks should once again put themselves in position to trade a star, it’s unclear if the right fit will be out there this offseason. There has been plenty of speculation over the years about Karl-Anthony Towns, a CAA client who previously played for head coach Tom Thibodeau, and Towns’ ability to space the floor makes him an intriguing target. But he’ll be on one of the NBA’s most expensive long-term contracts beginning in 2024/25 and he’s not the sort of two-way contributor Thibodeau prefers.

I’d consider Paul George and Jimmy Butler two potential trade candidates who would be more logical fits for New York. George is a CAA client and Butler previously played for Thibodeau in both Chicago and Minnesota. More importantly, both players are capable of sharing the offensive load with Brunson and defending at a high level on the other end of the court.

It remains to be seen whether either player will be attainable though. George would probably have to pick up his player option for 2024/25 and push for a trade to New York — if he extends with the Clippers or declines his option to become a free agent, he’ll almost certainly be off the table for the capped-out Knicks. As for Butler, while there has been speculation that his contract demands might result in a standoff between him and the Heat, it’s still hard to imagine a scenario in which Miami agrees to trade him to one of its primary Eastern Conference rivals.

Some combination of Randle, Bogdanovic, and Robinson, along with draft assets, would likely need to be included in a trade for a maximum-salary player like George or Butler. In addition to their two 2024 first-round picks, the Knicks control all their own future first-rounders, as well as protected 2025 picks from Detroit, Washington, and Milwaukee.

Finally, we should touch on a pair of contract extension negotiations worth watching this offseason. Both Thibodeau and Brunson are entering contract years (Brunson holds a 2025/26 player option) and figure to be offered new deals soon, if they haven’t been already.

It sounds like it’s a matter of when, not if, Thibodeau is extended, though it remains to be seen how much he’ll paid and how many years he’ll get. A multiyear deal in the neighborhood of $10-11MM per year seems about right, given the rising salaries for head coaches around the NBA.

As for Brunson, he’ll be eligible to sign a four-year extension worth approximately $157MM. Waiting another year would make him eligible for a deal worth up to a projected $270MM over five years. There has been some speculation that he’ll be willing to do a deal sooner rather than later, which would be a great outcome for the Knicks, but even if it doesn’t get done this offseason, they shouldn’t be worried — yes, he could become a free agent in 2025, but there’s no indication he’d consider leaving New York at that time. Waiting the extra year would just be about maximizing his earnings.

Randle will also be extension-eligible this summer, but I’d be surprised if he gets a new deal done, given that he’ll spend most of the offseason recovering from shoulder surgery and isn’t necessarily a lock to be part of the Knicks’ long-term plans like Brunson is.

Salary Cap Situation

Guaranteed Salary

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Bojan Bogdanovic ($17,032,850)
    • Partial guarantee. Rest of salary noted above. Bogdanovic’s salary will become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 28.
  • Mamadi Diakite ($2,273,252)
  • Total: $19,306,102

Dead/Retained Salary

  • None

Player Options

Team Options

  • DaQuan Jeffries ($2,463,946): Early Bird rights
  • Jericho Sims ($2,092,344): Bird rights
    • Sims’ salary would be partially guaranteed for $651,180 if his option is exercised. That guarantee would increase to $1,302,359 after July 16 and to full after August 16.
  • Total: $4,556,290

Restricted Free Agents

Two-Way Free Agents

Note: Because he has finished each of the past two seasons on a two-way contract with the Knicks, Washington’s qualifying offer would be worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,168,944). Brown is no longer eligible to sign a two-way contract and would also have a qualifying offer worth his minimum salary (projected to be $2,244,249). Those offers would each include a small partial guarantee.

Draft Picks

  • No. 24 overall pick ($2,833,800 cap hold)
  • No. 25 overall pick ($2,720,040 cap hold)
  • No. 38 overall pick (no cap hold)
  • Total (cap holds): $5,553,840

Extension-Eligible Players

  • OG Anunoby (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible until June 30 (or beyond, if player option is exercised).
  • Jalen Brunson (veteran)
  • Alec Burks (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible until June 30.
  • Julius Randle (veteran)
    • Extension-eligible as of August 3.
  • Mitchell Robinson (veteran)
  • Jericho Sims (veteran)
    • Team option must be exercised.

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, these players are eligible for extensions beginning in July.

Unrestricted Free Agents

Cap Exceptions Available

Note: The Knicks project to operate over the cap and under the first tax apron. If they approach or exceed the first apron, they would lose access to the full mid-level exception, the bi-annual exception, and their trade exceptions and would gain access to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,183,000). If they exceed the second apron, they would lose access to all of their exceptions.

  • Non-taxpayer mid-level exception: $12,859,000
  • Bi-annual exception: $4,681,000
  • Trade exception: $6,803,012
    • Expires on July 8.
  • Trade exception: $5,241,072
  • Trade exception: $3,873,025

Note: Unless otherwise indicated, trade exceptions don’t expire before the regular season begins.

Eastern Notes: Cavs, Atkinson, Bulls, Sixers, Knicks, Hawks

After previously reporting that James Borrego was viewed as the frontrunner for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching job, Marc Stein says (via Twitter) he heard multiple times on Friday that Kenny Atkinson‘s candidacy for the job is “gaining steam.”

Atkinson was identified early in the Cavs’ search process as the potential frontrunner, but multiple reporters – including Stein and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com – have said in recent weeks that Borrego appeared to have the edge. Those two former head coaches have been linked to the job most frequently and it certainly seems like one of them will end up being hired, but that’s not a lock. According to Stein, Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori also remains in the mix for Cleveland.

If the Cavaliers wrap up their search and make a decision soon, it will have an impact on their division rivals in Detroit. Both Borrego and Nori are expected to interview for the Pistons‘ head coaching vacancy.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Bullsacquisition of Josh Giddey signals that the team isn’t sold on the idea of a Lonzo Ball comeback, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who adds that director of player development and shooting coach Peter Patton has an “important project on his hands” in Chicago’s new lead guard, a career 31.0% three-point shooter. In his own look at the trade, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic contends that it’s “inexcusable” for the Bulls to make this kind of deal without acquiring any draft picks.
  • USC guard Isaiah Collier visited the Sixers this week for a pre-draft workout, a source tells Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter link). Once considered a possible top pick in this year’s draft, Collier has slipped to No. 23 on ESPN’s big board, so he could be available for Philadelphia at No. 16.
  • Yongxi Cui (China), David Jones (Memphis), Spencer Jones (Stanford), Ajay Mitchell (UCSB), and Antonio Reeves (Kentucky) were among the players to work out for the Knicks on Friday, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Bondy adds (via Twitter) that Arizona’s Keshad Johnson worked out for New York earlier this month.
  • The Hawks are hiring Ben Peterson away from the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and will make him their VP of player health and performance, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Pelissero’s report on Peterson, who was said to be “well-regarded” in San Francisco, has been confirmed by Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

Mavs’ Harrison Talks Offseason, Doncic, Jones, Assistants, More

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Mavericks head of basketball operations Nico Harrison said that he doesn’t expect to make any significant changes this offseason to the core of the roster that won the Western Conference this spring.

“I think we have the pieces. I think we just need to get better ourselves,” Harrison said, per Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). “Since I’ve been here, our front office staff has looked to make it better and we’ll continue to do that. But the core is intact. If you look at our top seven or eight players that really played. I don’t see anything happening with that.”

There has been speculation that the Mavericks could turn to the trade market in the coming weeks to make one more big move to solidify the team’s place as a legitimate title contender. While Harrison didn’t entirely rule out that possibility, noting that the front office is always open to ideas that would improve the roster, he suggested that they key to getting better is having Dallas’ own players come back “10 to 15% better.” That includes MVP runner-up Luka Doncic.

“We’re not where we’re at without Luka,” Harrison said, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “I think that’s important to point out, and we also won’t be able to get where we want to go without the best version of Luka. If you look at a guy who after Game 3 (of the NBA Finals) had the world on his neck — the scrutiny, which was crazy, the amount of scrutiny that he had to face — for him to focus in and do what he did in Game 4, I just think it just shows the character of him. He’s willing to fight through adversity, and I think he’s going to continue to get better.

“He’s 25 years old. I think just going through the Finals, him seeing what he needs to do to be at his best in the Finals after going through a grueling end of the year and then three tough, tough (playoff) matchups, I think you’re going to see the best version of him.”

Here are a few more of Harrison’s most notable comments from Friday’s presser, via Curtis, MacMahon, and Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com:

On his expectation that Doncic will play for Slovenia in its Olympic qualifying tournament next month:

“That’s probably one of his biggest joys. I think as long as he can walk, he’s probably going to go out there and play for them.”

On the Mavericks’ desire to re-sign Derrick Jones despite salary limitations:

“I don’t know how we’re going to do it, but he’s a priority. He’s priority one — 1A and 1B. I think he fits in with our team. He loves it here and we have to figure out obviously the dynamics to get him to stay. But that’s a priority and we’ll do what we have to do to get it done.”

On the importance of the playoff experience that four Mavs’ newcomers got this spring:

“To get to where we were, we relied on four players who had little to no playoff experience. (Dereck) Lively, (Daniel) Gafford, Derrick Jones and P.J. (Washington). Those four players played huge minutes for us and had little to no playoff experience. So how do they come back and incorporate that in their game from the start. I think that’s going to be huge.

“P.J. specifically, I think he can add a few more points a game, taking the ball off the rim, pushing it, posting up smaller players, shooting a little higher percentage from the three-point line, penetrating when they run him off the line. So he can add a few more points. And he’s going to. He’s poised to continue to get better. But the experience all four of those players got in the playoffs is going to carry them into next season.”

On assistant coaches Sean Sweeney and Jared Dudley drawing interest from rival teams:

“We love both of them and we respect them. They’ve been valuable in getting us to where we’re at, but at the same time, it’s about people. Our goal is to develop players and staff. If opportunities present themselves, we’re going to support them. They know how much we want them back, but it’s about growth. You can’t hamstring players or staff from growing. We’re going to support them, but we do want them back. We’re hopeful that they’ll be back.”

Trade Rumors: George, Bucks, Centers, Lakers, Murray

Although Paul George sits atop our list of 2024’s top 50 free agents, there’s a chance that the Clippers forward won’t actually become a free agent this offseason. George could sign an extension to remain in Los Angeles before free agency begins. There’s also another scenario worth keeping an eye on in the next week or so, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who has mentioned during multiple recent podcasts and TV appearances that an opt-in-and-trade could be an option for George (hat tip to RealGM).

George holds a $48.8MM player option for 2024/25, and if he decides he wants to join a team that doesn’t have the cap room necessary to sign him as a free agent, he could pick up his option in conjunction with a trade agreement in order to allow the Clippers to get something back for him while getting him to his preferred destination. A former Clipper, Chris Paul, took this route in 2017 in order to accommodate a trade from Los Angeles to Houston.

While it sounds more like speculation than hard reporting, Windhorst has repeatedly referred to the Knicks as a suitor who would make sense in this scenario, since they could offer a strong combination of rotation players and draft assets in a trade package for George (Twitter video link).

If George opts for free agency, a sign-and-trade deal in which the Clippers acquire multiple players for him likely wouldn’t be possible, since a new CBA rule prohibits second-apron teams from taking back salary in exchange for a signed-and-traded player.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Windhorst said during an appearance on Friday’s episode of First Take (YouTube link) that the Bucks may look to shake up their core this offseason, though neither Giannis Antetokounmpo nor Damian Lillard is considered a trade candidate. “There’s starting to be rumblings that (Bucks head coach) Doc Rivers is looking for a change or two to some of their core pieces,” Windhorst said. “Not Dame or Giannis, but potentially looking at another maneuver they could make to alter their team.” Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported earlier today that Milwaukee center Brook Lopez is viewed as a possible trade candidate.
  • The Lakers, Grizzlies, and Pelicans are a few of the teams who are “closely monitoring” the market for centers this offseason, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who took a closer look at whether New York will consider moving Mitchell Robinson. Like Lopez, Robinson has been cited as a potential trade candidate.
  • Appearing on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic suggested that the Lakers may renew their pursuit of a Hawks guard in the coming days. “They have to be aggressive,” Charania said. “One name that they did pursue last season at the trade deadline that teams around the league expect to come up again in trade conversations over the next week or so and makes sense for the Lakers is Dejounte Murray of the Hawks.” Atlanta is widely expected to trade either Murray or Trae Young this summer — Young has also previously been mentioned as a possible Lakers target.

Free Agent Rumors: DeRozan, Harris, Eubanks, Ntilikina, Hezonja, Holiday

Although the Bulls and DeMar DeRozan have both publicly expressed interest in continuing their relationship, there’s not as much momentum toward a new deal for DeRozan as there was at this time last year for Nikola Vucevic, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Vucevic ultimately ended up agreeing to an extension with the Bulls  on June 28, two days before free agency began.

Johnson cautions that the situation could change quickly, noting that a new agreement between DeRozan and the Bulls remains very possible. However, Johnson wonders if the Josh Giddey/Alex Caruso trade will change the equation at all for the veteran forward. As comfortable as DeRozan is in Chicago, he also wants to win, and he was a big fan of Caruso, who seems better suited than Giddey to help a team contend in the immediate future.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on this offseason’s free agents:

  • The Mavericks and Jazz are among the teams with free agent forward Tobias Harris on their radar, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv. While Utah has plenty of cap flexibility, Dallas projects to be in luxury tax territory, so their path to adding Harris would be trickier unless they can shed some salary, get him to accept a below-market deal, or pull off a sign-and-trade (while remaining below the first tax apron).
  • The Suns and Drew Eubanks haven’t closed the door on working out a new deal, even with the center turning down his 2024/25 player option, reports Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Rankin cites mutual interest between the two sides, adding that Eubanks has been working out in Phoenix and has been in touch with new head coach Mike Budenholzer. However, he says the big man will test the free agent market.
  • Former NBA lottery pick Frank Ntilikina has signed a contract with KK Partizan, the Serbian club announced in a press release. According to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link), the guard signed a two-year contract that includes an NBA out after the first season.
  • The new contract that Mario Hezonja – another former NBA lottery pick – agreed to with Real Madrid also includes an NBA out, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Hezonja has until July 19 to exercise that out clause for 2024/25, according to Charania, who hears from sources that the 29-year-old wing has drawn some interest from NBA teams.
  • Nuggets wing Justin Holiday, who is on track for unrestricted free agency, has hired new representation. Octagon Basketball announced (via Twitter) that it has added Holiday to its roster of clients.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic shared his list of this summer’s top 25 free agents, while Keith Smith of Spotrac made his predictions for the player and team option decisions that must be made by June 29. Hollinger’s list, which uses his BORD$ formula, includes players like Saddiq Bey and Spencer Dinwiddie in the top 20, though Hollinger acknowledges that they’re unlikely to get the kind of salaries that BORD$ projects.

Fischer’s Latest: Bridges, Bulls, Kings, Magic, Smart, More

Free agent forward Miles Bridges‘ could receive $30MM+ annually on his next contract, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. However, it remains to be seen if that money will come from the Hornets or another team.

According to Fischer, Charlotte is “believed to be open” to sign-and-trade concepts involving Bridges if the right opportunity arises. Sources tell Fischer the Nets discussed a Bridges trade concept with Charlotte in February that would have sent Ben Simmons to Charlotte. The Kings also inquired about Bridges ahead of the deadline, per Fischer.

As Fischer writes, the Hornets are viewed as a “salary-dumping ground” this summer as their new front office and head coach spearhead a rebuild. The same is true of the Pistons, who are looking for a new coach after dismissing Monty Williams.

Bridges’ market value has been difficult to gauge due to his off-court history, which includes multiple domestic violence allegations. One of those cases was dropped, but the other caused him to miss the entire 2022/23 season after he pleaded no contest (accepting punishment without formally admitting guilt).

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Confirming previous reporting, Fischer hears the Bulls remain active in trade talks around the league. The Thunder, Raptors and Hornets are among the teams with interest in restricted free agent Patrick Williams, Fischer writes.
  • The Kings appear to be the most likely suitor right now for Zach LaVine, according to Fischer, who adds that Sacramento has continued shopping Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter in trade talks. Huerter, in particular, has drawn a “healthy amount external interest.” Still, the Bulls haven’t gained serious traction on a potential LaVine deal in several months despite being active in negotiations, sources tell Fischer. The Kings are also contemplating moving the No. 13 pick in next week’s draft, Fischer adds.
  • In previous trade windows, the Bulls pushed for unprotected picks when discussing Alex Caruso, sources tell Fischer. One scenario saw the Bulls push for four first-rounders, though presumably that total would have included protected picks. Chicago officially traded Caruso to Oklahoma City on Friday for Josh Giddey.
  • Fischer confirms LaVine is a “backup option” for the Sixers and their significant cap room. Fischer also suggests (via Twitter) the 76ers shouldn’t be ruled out as a landing spot for Paul George, despite a report from Shams Charania of The Athletic stating that their interest in George has waned as of late.
  • Fischer says the Magic are looking for a veteran wing who can space the floor, naming Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as perhaps their top target. If they lose Williams, the Bulls could have interest in Caldwell-Pope, with the Sixers another potential landing spot depending on how things work out with other targets. There are scenarios in which Orlando would exercise its $11MM team option on Joe Ingles as well, sources tell Fischer. Fischer previously touched on Klay Thompson‘s fit with the Magic.
  • The Grizzlies, who control the No. 9 pick, are known to be looking for big men, with UConn’s Donovan Clingan one draft target in a move-up scenario. However, Fischer hears from sources who say Memphis is also open to moving back in the draft. The Grizzlies are unwilling to move Marcus Smart, but Luke Kennard has drawn “strong interest” in trade talks, according to Fischer — the team holds a $14.7MM option on Kennard for 2024/25.

Suns’ Drew Eubanks Declining 2024/25 Player Option

Suns center Drew Eubanks is declining his $2.65MM player option for 2024/25 to become an unrestricted free agent, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Eubanks, 27, signed a one-plus-one (second-year player option) deal with Phoenix last summer, appearing in 75 games and averaging 5.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 0.8 BPG as the team’s primary backup center (15.6 MPG).

Most players who decline their options have an idea of potential interest from rival teams — that seems likely to be the case here too, though that’s just my speculation.

As Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports observes (via Twitter), Eubanks didn’t fit particularly well in his lone season with the Suns, so the decision for him to opt out could be mutually beneficial. Phoenix will be on the lookout for a backup center with Eubanks presumably switching teams.

A former undrafted free agent who played three years of college ball for Oregon State, Eubanks got his NBA start with the Spurs on a two-way deal back in ’18/19. He spent three-plus seasons with San Antonio before being traded and then released by Toronto. He caught on with the Blazers a couple weeks later, finishing the ’21/22 and ’22/23 seasons with Portland.

The 6’9″ big man holds career averages of 5.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 0.8 BPG in 323 regular season games, including 71 starts (15.9 MPG). He has shot 60.6% from the field and 73.4% from the free throw line over the past six seasons.

The full list of 2024/25 player option decisions can be found here.

Brook Lopez, Mitchell Robinson Among Centers On Trade Block

Bucks veteran Brook Lopez and Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson are among the prominent centers who are available for trade this offseason, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Fischer hears from sources who say Clint Capela (Hawks), Walker Kessler (Jazz) and Isaiah Stewart (Pistons) are other big men names to watch on the trade market.

According to Fischer, Milwaukee is open to roster changes and has been gauging Lopez’s market value. The 36-year-old will earn $23MM in 2024/25, which is the final season of his contract. League sources tell Fischer the Rockets warned Lopez when they pursued him last summer that returning to the Bucks could eventually lead to him being traded.

While the Alex Caruso trade wouldn’t preclude the Thunder from making a run at Isaiah Hartenstein, they seem far more focused on finding a “situational reserve” center instead of a signing a starting-caliber big man like Hartenstein, per Fischer. As of now, the Knicks seem to be in the driver’s seat to re-sign the 26-year-old, Fischer writes — that’s why New York has been discussing Robinson deals.

Ian Begley of SNY.tv has also heard Robinson has popped up in trade talks (Twitter link). Begley believes the Knicks aren’t “fully committed” to dealing Robinson, but they view his contract — he’ll make $27.3MM over the next two seasons — as a valuable trade chip.

As cap expert Yossi Gozlan observes (via Twitter), moving off Robinson’s salary would give New York more financial flexibility this offseason, perhaps to re-sign Precious Achiuwa and OG Anunoby. If the Knicks make no other cost-cutting moves, they would project to be well over the second tax apron if they bring back all their key free agents.

Capela, 30, is on a $22.3MM expiring contract. He has popped up in trade rumors for some time. While Fischer suggests the Hawks and Pistons been actively exploring deals for Capela and Stewart, respectively, his wording on Kessler is more speculative, writing that “rival teams believe” the Jazz are open to the possibility of moving the 22-year-old, who excelled as a rookie in ’22/23 but had an uneven second season.

LeBron James Reportedly Expected To Decline Player Option

Lakers superstar forward LeBron James is expected to decline his $51.4MM player option for 2024/25 to become an unrestricted free agent, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. The four-time MVP faces a June 29 deadline to finalize that decision.

Woike’s report isn’t surprising. Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, James’ agent, referred to his longtime friend and client as an impending free agent during a TNT Sports altcast at the end of last month before attempting to walk back the comment. Opting out would give James, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, the opportunity to negotiate a full no-trade clause if he re-signs with with the Lakers. A return to L.A. is widely viewed as the likely outcome.

Due to the Over-38 rule, James will be limited to a three-year contract, though the 39-year-old is reportedly may not be looking to play for more than a couple more seasons.

In his 21st season in ’23/24, James averaged 25.7 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 8.3 APG and 1.3 SPG on .540/.410/.750 shooting across 71 regular season contests (35.3 MPG). He averaged 27.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 8.8 APG, 2.4 SPG and 1.0 BPG on .566/.385/.739 shooting in the Lakers’ first-round playoff loss to Denver.

James extended his own NBA record last season by making his 20th All-NBA team, all of which have come consecutively. Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan are all tied in second place with 15 total nods each. James also made his 20th straight All-Star appearance in ’23/24.

Woike’s story is largely focused on the Lakers’ decision to hire J.J. Redick as their new head coach. Woike confirms the Lakers were genuinely interested and optimistic about their pursuit of UConn’s Dan Hurley, who ultimately spurned L.A. to stay with the Huskies. According to Woike, one person in a “prominent” role with the Lakers said they had “never been more shocked” in their life when they learned of the team’s secretive pursuit of Hurley.

Thunder Trade Josh Giddey To Bulls For Alex Caruso

The Thunder have officially traded Josh Giddey to the Bulls for Alex Caruso, the two teams confirmed in press releases. Our full trade breakdown from Thursday can be found here.

While Chicago’s statement doesn’t have any quotes from the front office, Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti was remarkably transparent, at least from his perspective, about how and why the trade transpired.

We want to thank Josh for his many contributions to our team and know he will capitalize on the opportunities before him in Chicago.

When we drafted Josh in 2021 he was an essential aspect of our vision for the next iteration of the Thunder. Since then, our team has evolved rapidly and dynamically in ways we could never have anticipated. Therefore, as we began our internal discussions this offseason, it was determined that bringing Josh off the bench next season was our best option to maximize his many talents and deploy our team more efficiently over 48 minutes.

As we laid out to Josh how he could lean into his strengths and ultimately optimize our current roster and talent, it was hard to for him to envision, and conversations turned to him inquiring about potential opportunities elsewhere. As always was the case, Josh demonstrated the utmost professionalism throughout the discussions. Josh has All-Star potential, but accessing that in the current construct of the Thunder would not be optimal for the collective. Based on these discussions we decided to move forward and prioritize what was best for the organization.

Alex Caruso is a player we have always highly valued and followed. He is the quintessential Thunder player; he is an exceptional competitor and teammate with a multi-dimensional skillset. His presence and game will help elevate the core of our team as we continue to strive to build a sustainably elite program in Oklahoma City. Alex is a player that began his professional career with the Thunder/Blue and the opportunity to add him was something we felt would truly enhance our team and culture. We could not be more excited to see Alex in Thunder blue (again).”

A former sixth overall pick who is still only 21 years old, Giddey was brought off the bench for the first time in his career during the Thunder’s second-round series vs. Dallas due to shooting and defensive struggles. The Australian guard/forward, who is a very talented rebounder and passer, will be a restricted free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign a rookie scale extension with Chicago this offseason.

Caruso, meanwhile, has become one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, earning All-Defensive team nods each of the past two seasons. He’s also a more accomplished shooter than Giddey, with superior accuracy (38.0% vs. 31.0%) from three-point range during his career. The 30-year-old is headed for unrestricted free agency in 2025 if he doesn’t sign an extension before the 2024/25 campaign ends.