Knicks Rumors: Hardaway, Lee, Kanter

Rival teams have inquired about Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who suggests that the Knicks would be open to moving either player and creating additional 2019 cap flexibility — even if losing Hardaway would make the lottery-bound team even less competitive on a nightly basis.

However, league sources tell Vorkunov that the Knicks “have been adamant” about not attaching any sweeteners to Hardaway or Lee in a deal. Both players are on pricey multiyear contracts and aren’t exactly positive assets right now, so any team willing to trade expiring salary for either Hardaway or Lee would likely be seeking a draft pick or a young player from New York. Apparently, as Vorkunov details, the Knicks are averse to that idea, as they were when they tried to shop Joakim Noah last year.

In contrast to past management groups, the Knicks’ current front office has exhibited a commendable commitment to hanging onto future draft picks. And while that stance may be in the club’s best long-term interests, it may reduce the likelihood of Hardaway or Lee being dealt by February 7. Perhaps, as Vorkunov writes, a contending team in need of a veteran scorer or shooter will relent by the deadline and make a deal with the Knicks without asking for an extra asset, but that’s certainly no lock.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Vorkunov’s piece goes more in-depth on which Knicks players are the most and least likely to be moved by next month’s deadline, and is worth checking out in full. He identifies Enes Kanter as the player most likely to be with a new team after February 7, though a number of other veterans are also trade candidates.
  • Speaking of Kanter, he expressed some disappointment and frustration on Monday after being informed by head coach David Fizdale that he’d likely be out of the rotation going forward, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. Of course, Kanter’s removal from the rotation lasted about a quarter and a half — he entered Monday’s game in the second quarter after Luke Kornet went down with an ankle sprain, and figures to continue seeing regular minutes if Kornet has to miss time.
  • Still, Kanter sounds like someone who might be ready to move on from the Knicks if his minutes are cut back again, as Berman relays: “I love it here, but in the end, I want to play basketball. I miss playing basketball, man. And I would let [Knicks GM] Scott [Perry] and my agent handle that stuff. We had the conversation [Sunday], and they were kind of like, shutting me down. So I’m like, I want to play basketball. I love it here. I love New York. I love the fans, but in the end, I want to play basketball.”
  • The Knicks’ commitment to a youth movement may not be good news for Kanter, but it should benefit Frank Ntilikina, writes George Willis of The New York Post.
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