With the clock ticking on their 16th roster spot, the Knicks will have to make a roster move of some sort in the coming days, and the team’s preferred option would be to trade a player rather than eating a guaranteed salary, writes Ian Begley of ESPN.
To that end, the Knicks have been making calls to gauge potential trade interest in Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who recently expressed dissatisfaction with his reduced role in New York. Additionally, the club has made Joakim Noah available in trade conversations with several teams since the end of the 2017/18 season, but hasn’t found a viable deal, league sources tell Begley.
Marc Berman of The New York Post had previously reported that Kuzminskas’s representatives were gauging possible trade interest in their client, so it comes as no surprise that the Knicks are involved in those discussions too.
The 28-year-old Lithiuanian forward had modest overall numbers last season, but played well when given the chance to crack the starting lineup, recording 14.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and a .511/.391/.929 in his five starts. Kuzminskas is only earning about $3MM and will be a restricted free agent next summer, so it shouldn’t be overly difficult to move him if there are teams with interest.
The same can’t be said of Noah, whose contract is fully guaranteed through 2019/20 at a rate of approximately $18.5MM annually. As Begley notes, a trade involving Noah is highly unlikely, given his exorbitant salary and his declining production. With Enes Kanter and Kyle O’Quinn off to solid starts, it’s not even clear if Noah will have a place in the rotation when he returns from his suspension, says Begley.
If the Knicks haven’t lined up a suitable trade by the time Noah’s suspension ends, the team may get back down to 15 players by waiving Ramon Sessions, according to Begley. The point guard’s 2017/18 salary is fully guaranteed, but it’s only worth the minimum, and Sessions isn’t a part of the rotation, with Jarrett Jack and Frank Ntilikina currently handling point guard duties.