The Knicks and Kings are discussing a potential trade that would see the teams swap the expiring contracts of Enes Kanter and Zach Randolph, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
However, according to Wojnarowski, nothing is close yet, as Sacramento would prefer to send out more expiring money in any such trade. Getting a third team involved could help pave the way to a deal, Woj adds.
Kanter, 26, has had an inconsistent role for the Knicks this season as the team focuses on developing young bigs like Luke Kornet and Mitchell Robinson. Kanter has spoken repeatedly about how much he likes playing in New York and hasn’t requested a trade, but he may welcome the opportunity to get more regular playing time for a team in the playoff hunt as he approaches unrestricted free agency.
The Kings fit that bill, remaining in the race for a postseason berth despite a recent slump. The 20-21 squad is currently tied with Utah and Minnesota, two games back of the Lakers for the No. 8 seed. Sacramento also has approximately $11MM in cap room, which means the club could comfortably take on Kanter’s $18.6MM salary in exchange for Randolph’s $11.7MM contract without having to worry about salary matching.
That may not be the best use of the Kings’ cap space though — that space figures to be a valuable asset at next month’s trade deadline, since every other NBA team is over the cap. It’s also not clear why the Knicks would be incentivized to make a Kanter/Randolph swap, besides some modest financial savings in 2018/19, but perhaps the club is simply ready to move on from its veteran center.
In 41 games (26.5 MPG) this season, Kanter has been his usual productive self, posting 14.4 PPG and 11.0 RPG. While he can score and is an excellent rebounder, the former third overall pick isn’t a strong defender or rim protector, which will limit his value on the trade market.
As for Randolph, the 37-year-old hasn’t appeared in a single game for the Kings so far in the final season of his two-year contract with the club. At this point, he’s a trade candidate simply for his expiring deal, and would certainly emerge as a buyout candidate if he’s not moved by February 7.
The Kings also have veterans like Kosta Koufos ($8.7MM) and Ben McLemore ($5.5MM) on expiring contracts and could look to make the most of those deals in trades in the coming weeks. Iman Shumpert ($11MM) is in the final year of his contract too, but has emerged as a reliable on-court contributor and off-court leader for Sacramento, reducing the odds that he’d be used as a trade chip.