2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: New York Knicks

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead at the 2020/21 salary cap situations for all 30 NBA teams. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the NBA calendar, it’s impossible to know yet where the cap for 2020/21 will land. Given the league’s lost revenue, we’re assuming for now that it will stay the same as the ’19/20 cap, but it’s entirely possible it will end up higher or lower than that.

It was another dismal season for the Knicks, who were on track to miss the playoffs for a seventh consecutive year when the season was suspended in March. And while RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson look like potential long-term building blocks, former top-10 picks Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina still aren’t producing consistently for the club.

The good news? The Knicks have a new president of basketball operations (Leon Rose) who will likely bring in a new head coach and some new voices in the front office. Plus, with plenty of cap flexibility going forward, the team isn’t locked into the current roster.

Here’s where things stand for the Knicks financially in 2020/21, as we launch our Salary Cap Preview series:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

  • Taj Gibson ($8,450,000) 1
  • Wayne Ellington ($7,000,000) 2
  • Elfrid Payton ($7,000,000) 3
  • Reggie Bullock ($3,200,000) 4
  • Mitchell Robinson ($1,663,861) 5
  • Kenny Wooten (two-way)
  • Total: $27,313,861

Restricted Free Agents

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

In theory, the Knicks could operate as an over-the-cap team if they retain all of their veterans with team options or non-guaranteed salaries. In reality, I’d expect only two or three of those players to be back. Besides Robinson, who will obviously be retained, Bullock looks like a solid value, and Gibson and/or Payton are candidates to stick around.

Even if they retain all of those players, plus their guys on guaranteed deals and their two first-round picks, the Knicks project to open up more than $25MM in cap space, assuming the cap doesn’t drop from its 2019/20 level. Moving on from Gibson, Payton, and/or Bullock would push that number even higher and could result in New York having the second- or third-most room of any NBA team this offseason.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Room exception: $4,767,000 6
  • Trade exception: $3,988,766 (expires 2/8/21) 7


  1. Gibson’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  2. Ellington’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  3. Payton’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  4. Bullock’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  5. Robinson’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after October 17.
  6. This is a projected value.
  7. The Knicks will have to renounce this exception in order to use cap room.

Note: Minimum-salary and rookie-scale cap holds are based on the salary cap and could increase or decrease depending on where the cap lands.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and Early Bird Rights was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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11 thoughts on “2020/21 Salary Cap Preview: New York Knicks

  1. mcmillankmm

    So will the Knicks blow all their cap space this offseason? Or play for the 2021 class?

    • Prediction: they will get the stupidest course of action done. None of us could imagine what that might look like, but it will be self inflicted and spectacularly dumb.

  2. wildboys

    The Knicks need a leader both on the court and on the sideline obviously.
    I’m not a Thibs fan, JVG is probably going to a team in a better position to win now.
    So Mark Jackson makes the most sense.
    Now, how to best spend the Dolan’s dough?
    Why wait for 2021 class? Which players can you guarantee will actually be available that are franchise changers?
    Giannis of course would be that guy,
    but Milwaukee can offer him the most and they will. Oladipo was represented by Rose and I could see making a play for him, but Indiana has put together a nice team around him, so why would he want to start over.
    The rest of the big names are staying put.
    This years FA class is shallow, but there is one guy that fills the obvious need.
    That man is Fred Van Vleet, he’s a true floor general, he proves that while Lowry was hurt, but he can also play the two.
    Depending on where and who we draft,
    that could come in to play.
    They keep talking about trading for a “disgruntled star” , but who?
    KAT was represented by Rose and may want out of Minnesota eventually , but the Wolves are making it clear he’s their guy.
    The worst case scenario?
    We mortgage the future to add players to seem like we’re trying to win-now, and hope that other players will buy-in and force trades ? That’s not a good strategy for team building. But since it is The Knicks and they’ve always done exactly what I think they shouldn’t do, they’ll probably trade for Chris Paul and his ridiculous contract and be left at the altar by every other player they attempt to court.

    • emac22

      Your advice is a restricted free agent or was that all just a prediction of doom?

      CP3 wouldn’t cost anything but money, would free us of Randal and bring back a couple of 1sr round picks.

      Maybe more important than the massive PG upgrade is his ability to teach.

      I’m not a fan of waiting for FA’s and he makes the team much better now while being a good player to reset the tone.

      We can either suck again or was can trade the 2021 FA tease for a playoff spot next year.

      • dave frost nhlpa

        We need picks,players that don’t know any better or have to come here. Then the disgruntled player looking for a new NBA life.
        Wait for G to arrive.
        I should have stopped watching when Patrick left.

  3. x%sure

    There are basically six signed players. Mentioned are four more keepers–Robinson, Gibson, Payton, & Bullock. But five other current Knicks may be retainable at a good value.

    But can any of Ellington, Trier, Dotson, Allen or Harkless survive the blame game?– probably not. Some say Trier was being hidden to keep his price low; Ellington can still hit; and Harkless came in trade, was a starter, and is local. But it seems likely at least those five will be shown the door.

  4. mlbnyyfan

    I hope both Trier and Dotson both solid players stay. They just need a coach willing to play them more often. They could of played more last season if they didn’t sign all those one and done players

  5. Just as long as they pick a decent coach and don’t do something stupid like Sign Derozan to a multi year deal if he opts out, the first offseason under Rose could be the turning point.

    Take a high energy/character guy like Okoro and a PG like Lewis or Jones. Land Jackson or JVG as the coach. Sign FVV and pick up a couple of options like Bullock and Portis. Give Robinson the starting role.

    Still won’t be a great team next year, but will have flexibility in 2021 and have some quality pieces to make NY an attractive place to play again.

  6. KnickerbockerAl

    First of all. Priority is on the draft. Payton is staying. Only has one yr. he was our best n most consistent guard. I would take Halliburton with first pick. Keep Payton to eventually be backup. Move Frank n Smith after building their value back up. Portis is overpaid, he’s gone. Ellington is overpaid, he’s gone. Taj is solid backup from NYC. Trier I like. But don’t know what they will do with him. Did him wrong this yr. Dotson I like too. But they need shooters. With 3 picks in draft. They both probably gone. All who consider themselves NYK fans. Need to stop looking for help. Nobody is coming here till we start winning. Winning with young talent. Not old 34 yr old PGs. This draft selection depends all on what Warriors do. They are assured top 3 pick. They are going to trade pick. What we don’t know. If it’s going to be major trade. Eventually they probably move Wiggins too. I consider Halliburton best PG in draft. Him alone gets us 8th seed. But it seems Knicks not set on Randle. So expect him to be moved by trade deadline or sooner. Listen we are in a REBUILD. We don’t need old players. We need to see this thru. After this draft. We will be in a position to make major move. We have 4 #1 picks next two yrs. And plenty of cap space for 2021. But first we
    Must build this team, A young team. Into a playoff team. Compete for 7th 8th seed. Otherwise the only players coming here. Are old over the hill. Or just get paid kind of players. Aren’t you sick of that. This is a REBUILD. And we have to see it thru. We haven’t build thru draft since Ewing. See it Thru

  7. andremets

    I’d like to see Knicks get Van Fleet and C.Woods and resign Dotson. I ditch Payton, Gibson, and Ellington. Theirs can stay. Gibson can come back on a veteran’s minimum salary if he wants to keep playing. I try to draft Killian Hayes or Halliburton. DSJ gets dealt for a 2nd round pick.

    Pg: Van Fleet/Nkitina
    SG: K.Hayes/Dodson/Theus
    W: Barrett/clippers pick/last year’s 2nd rd pick
    PF: C. Woods/Knox/2nd round pick/undrafted FA.
    C: Robinson/Randle/Gibson

    Hopefully they fwl

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