The Knicks need to concentrate their rebuilding efforts on the draft rather than free agency, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. If Enes Kanter, Ron Baker and Kyle O’Quinn all exercise player options for next season, New York will have about $10MM available and almost all of that will be consumed by a $9.8MM cap hold for Doug McDermott. The Knicks have a Monday deadline to reach a rookie-scale extension with McDermott, but sources tell Begley that’s unlikely to happen. New York also has to factor in the cost of what is expected to be a high draft pick. Frank Ntilikina, who was the eighth overall selection this year, has a starting salary of $3.5MM.
The outlook is somewhat brighter for 2019, as the Knicks will enter that summer with about $50MM in guaranteed salaries. The team could give Kristaps Porzingis a rookie extension by then, which would add about $27MM, but with the Latvian star having a $17.1MM cap hold, it may make more sense to work out a deal in 2019. Add in a $4.8MM option that is expected to be picked up on Ntilikina, plus $1.6MM options on Damyean Dotson and Willy Hernangomez in addition to another draft pick, and Begley estimates about $19.5MM in available cap space, which isn’t nearly enough to compete for an elite free agent.
There’s more today out of New York:
- One way to open cap space is through trades, and the Knicks’ front office seems willing to deal Courtney Lee, Begley notes in the same story. With three years and $55MM left on his contract, Joakim Noah is considered virtually untradable, but former team president Phil Jackson tried to include him when he talked to teams about Porzingis deals earlier this year.
- Teams have contacted the Knicks about O’Quinn and Lance Thomas during the preseason, Begley adds. New York has a surplus of big men after acquiring Kanter from the Thunder in the Carmelo Anthony trade.
- The Knicks aren’t making much effort to hide their desire to tank this season, with coach Jeff Hornacek comparing himself to Sixers coach Brett Brown, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. There is some concern that rebuilding will take its toll on Porzingis and may affect his desire to sign an extension in New York. “We’re building something and want to move forward as a team. We’re far from a championship right now,” Porzingis said. “We need to have a progression and move forward as a team and get better every year. I don’t know how long, if we do all the right things and grow, we’ll be there one day.’’
- The Knicks unveiled Squarespace this morning as the new team sponsor, according to The New York Daily News. They are the 17th NBA team to add an official sponsor, and the uniform patches will debut in Friday’s game.