The Knicks have signed Cleanthony Early, this year’s 34th overall pick, the team announced (on Twitter). It’ll have to be a minimum-salary arrangement, since the Knicks are well over the cap and have no exceptions other than the minimum-salary exception to use. That exception limits the contract to no more than two years, though it’s not immediately clear whether Early is getting two years or just one.
The small forward from Wichita State is one of three second-round picks from last month whose rights belong to the Knicks, though it’s unclear whether the team intends to sign 51st overall selection Thanasis Antetokounmpo or No. 57 pick Louis Labeyrie this year. Early is the 15th player on the Knicks roster, one that had included only a dozen guaranteed contracts.
Early went just about where he had been expected to go on draft night, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com ranked him as the 32nd best prospect while Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress rated him 38th. The final version of Alex Lee’s Hoops Rumors Mock Draft had Early slipping into the first round at No. 27. Concerns about the 23-year-old’s age and worries about whether he fits into the position of small forward in the NBA surrounded him, as Lee wrote when he examined Early’s prospect profile, but he’s also a polished player capable who shouldn’t require much development.