Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
After striking out on Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and (presumably) Kawhi Leonard, the Knicks essentially did what they said they were going to do in 'Plan B' of their free agency approach: signed players to team-friendly deals to maintain cap flexibility.
The contracts for Reggie Bullock (two years, $21 million), Bobby Portis (two years, $31 million), Elfrid Payton (two years, $16 million), Taj Gibson (two years, $20 million) and Wayne Ellington (two years, $16 million) all have team options for the second season. The Knicks' deal with Julius Randle (three years, $63 million) has a team option for the third season.
The anger over the club missing on Durant is warranted given the steps the club took to create max cap space. But the Knicks seemed to do well in their pivot to Plan B.
It's fair to question how well the new players will fit together or if the roster is balanced, but the Knicks didn't panic and commit long-term money to any other top free agents after missing out on their top targets.
They also didn't use their space to absorb a contract a team wanted to dump. This is a move that often allows the receiving team to acquire a future first-round pick for taking on the contract. There seemed to be several opportunities for the Knicks to explore that route on Sunday and Monday.
Andre Igoudala was moved to a third team in the D'Angelo Russell sign-and-trade, per ESPN. Memphis acquired Igoudala, who will earn $17 million in the final year of his contract in 2019-20, in the transaction and reportedly received a protected 2024 first-round pick from the Warriors.
In the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade, the Clippers received a 2023 first-round pick from Miami to take on Maurice Harkless and his $11 million contract from Portland, per ESPN.
It's unclear if the Knicks entered into discussions with any teams involved in those transactions. Entering free agency, the Knicks didn't plan to get involved in salary-dump deals if the trade didn't return a player they felt could help them win.
The players the Knicks signed to two-year deals with team options could be valuable in trade talks because they could be seen as expiring contracts by the team that acquires them.
Point guard competition
The Payton acquisition gives the Knicks another young guard. (The club had interest in veteran guard George Hill, per SNY sources, before he signed with Milwaukee.) Presumably, Payton will compete with Dennis Smith Jr. (acquired in the Kristaps Porzingis trade), Frank Ntilikina and Kadeem Allen in the backcourt.
That said, the club spoke to at least one team about a potential Ntilikina trade prior to the draft, per sources. It will be interesting to see how head coach David Fizdale divides minutes and shapes lineups this season.
The Knicks still have roughly $4 million in cap space and a $4.7 million exception to spend in free agency. As far as others players the Knicks have showed interest in, sources said prior to free agency that they'd be keeping an eye on James Ennis since the start of free agency, per sources. They had strong interest in both Terry Rozier and George Hill, but both players signed elsewhere