Today marks the unofficial start of the NBA’s trading season, but the Knicks won’t be in a hurry to make any deals, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. December 15 is the date that most free agents who signed during the summer are eligible to be traded. New York has seven of those, with six on expiring contracts, but several factors make any quick deals unlikely.
A team executive tells Berman that the Knicks want to wait until closer to the February 7 deadline to sort out their assets, especially since interim coach Mike Miller just took over last week. The Knicks are 2-2 under Miller, and management believes the players’ trade value will rise if the team continues to succeed. Another consideration is the shaky status of team president Steve Mills, which may delay any major decisions until after the season.
The Knicks will continue to emphasize cap flexibility heading into the summer, Berman adds, which means it’s unlikely they’ll take on any expensive, long-term contracts. The 2020 free agent class is considered weak, but the organization wants to have cap room available for any offseason trade opportunities that might arise.
There’s more this morning from New York:
- The Knicks believe they can get a late first-round pick from a contender in exchange for Marcus Morris, Berman relays in the same piece. Figuring out the point guard situation remains a priority, with Elfrid Payton apparently back in the lead role. Berman notes that Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina have both been on the trade block before.
- The Knicks have been much better since Payton returned after missing 17 games with a strained hamstring, Berman observes in a separate story. Payton has been closing out games under Miller and sparked a comeback in Friday’s win at Sacramento. “When he’s playing like that, he’s a monster and tough to deal with, pushing the pace,” Julius Randle said. “… He got it done on both ends. I’m extremely proud of him how he competes.’’ A source tells Berman that Randle believes his adjustment to joining a new team would have been much easier if Payton hadn’t been injured.
- Ntilikina made progress under former coach David Fizdale, but finds himself in a different situation since Miller took over, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Ntilikina remains in the starting lineup, but he’s not the type of “downhill” point guard that Miller envisions. “My goal is to stay the same, go out here and play hard for the team, give everything I can bring to this team,” Ntilikina said. “So of course, being in that situation is tough. Losing a lot of games, losing a coach, is tough. However, we’ve got to focus on the future.”