FEBRUARY 21, 6:05pm: Harkless plans to remain with the Knicks for the rest of the season, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.
FEBRUARY 20, 9:15am: When the Clippers acquired Marcus Morris from the Knicks two weeks ago, they sent Maurice Harkless to New York as a salary-matching piece. With Harkless on an expiring contract and New York well out of the playoff race, there was speculation that his new team may be willing to buy out the veteran forward to allow him to join a contender.
As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports (via Twitter), Harkless said on Wednesday that he hasn’t initiated any buyout talks with the Knicks. However, the 26-year-old didn’t entirely rule out the possibility, suggesting he and his agent may discuss a potential buyout at some point and weigh whether he wants to finish the season with a playoff team.
Harkless appeared in 50 games (38 starts) with the Clippers before being dealt at the deadline. His counting stats (5.5 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 22.8 MPG) were modest, but he was a solid complementary piece alongside a handful of ball-dominant players in L.A., providing good perimeter defense and shooting well (.516 FG%, .370 3PT%) when he did end up with the ball.
A New York native, Harkless said upon being traded to the Knicks that it was a “dream come true” to join the club he grew up rooting for. So it’s possible his desire to finish the season with his hometown team may outweigh his interest in signing with a contender. Even if he seeks a buyout, the Knicks would have to be willing to negotiate the terms of his release.
If the two sides end up pursuing a buyout agreement, they’ll do so by March 1 to ensure Harkless retains his postseason eligibility. A player who is waived on March 2 or a later date can’t appear in the playoffs for a new team.
Harkless wouldn’t be able to re-sign with the Clippers if he’s bought out, but any other team would be fair game. There have been rumors suggesting that Los Angeles’ other team, the Lakers, would have interest.