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    Knicks free-agency preview: Pursuing Jalen Brunson, trades with Pistons and more

    Five words define the past week in the NBA: the Knicks have some news.

    They agreed to three trades on draft night. They pulled off one more Tuesday evening by dealing three veterans, a first-round pick and six second-rounders. They’ve acquired three more firsts. They’ve done it all amidst a frenzy for Dallas Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson.

    Meanwhile, the kookiest part of the offseason hasn’t even begun.

    Free agency is set to kick off at 6 p.m. (ET) Thursday when sources expect the Knicks to make a significant offer to Brunson, the target of all their wheeling and dealing over the past week.

    Here is everything you need to know about what could go down once the chaos begins:

    How does the roster stand today?
    The Knicks’ free agents include Mitchell Robinson and Ryan Arcidiacono. Both are unrestricted.

    The team unloaded Kemba Walker to the Pistons on draft night and then pulled off another swap Tuesday, once again with Detroit, who will receive Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, along with two second-round picks and cash, a source confirmed, part of a quest to clear cap space. Neither of the deals with the Pistons are official yet.

    Here is the roster heading into the start of free agency:

    Knicks Roster

    Julius Randle
    27
    $23.8M

    Evan Fournier
    29
    $18M

    Derrick Rose
    33
    $14.5M

    RJ Barrett
    22
    $10.9M

    Cam Reddish
    22
    $6.0M

    Obi Toppin
    24
    $5.3M

    Taj Gibson
    37
    $5.2M*

    Immanuel Quickley
    23
    $2.3M

    Quentin Grimes
    22
    $2.3M

    Miles McBride
    21
    $1.6M

    Jericho Sims
    23
    Two-way

    Trevor Keels
    18
    Unsigned

    *Non-guaranteed

    What are the finances?
    The Knicks have 12 players, including 2022 second-round pick Trevor Keels, who is unsigned, and Jericho Sims, who is on a two-way contract. Taj Gibson’s $5.2 million salary for 2022-23 is non-guaranteed. They could waive him for no charge if they need to create more cap room.

    They presumably enter free agency at $29.4 million under the projected salary cap of $122 million. They will have the room mid-level exception, worth $5.3 million, that they can use to sign a free agent for up to two seasons. However, they may choose a different path.

    There is a world where they operate as an above-the-cap team. Salary cap geeks: this is your time to shine.

    If they agree to a contract with Brunson and work with Dallas on a sign-and-trade, the Knicks could include the Pistons as a third team and structure a mega-sized deal so they never dip below the cap. Taking this route would give the Knicks the full mid-level exception (worth $10.3 million) instead of the room mid-level.

    No matter which direction the Knicks choose, they are in no danger of approaching the $149 million luxury tax threshold.

    They are loaded with draft picks. They own all of their first-rounders, as well as four others:

    • 2023 Dallas (top-10 protected; protections go until 2025)
    • 2023 Washington (top-14 protected; protections go until 2026)
    • 2023 Detroit (top-18 protected; protections go until 2027)
    • 2025 Milwaukee (top-four protected)

    They are plus-two in second-round picks, too.

    Why did Knicks do all of these trades with Pistons?
    For cap space. Why else?

    As a reminder, let’s run through the details.

    They made three exchanges on draft night. In the first, they received a protected 2023 Denver first-rounder, a protected 2023 Washington first-rounder and a protected 2023 Detroit first-rounder from the Thunder for the No. 11 pick. Further details of the protections are in this story. In the second trade, they flipped that aforementioned Nuggets first-rounder to the Hornets along with four second-round picks for the No. 13 selection. In the third, they rewired No. 13 along with Walker to the Pistons for a protected 2025 Milwaukee first.

    On Tuesday, they sent Noel, Burks, two second-rounders and cash to the Pistons without receiving any players back. For what it’s worth, the Knicks received rave reviews on this trade from the few front-office officials I spoke with late Tuesday night. The sense around the league leading up to the deal was that it would take a first-rounder to get off of Noel’s salary, especially after New York used No. 13 to clear out Walker, who makes essentially the same amount.

    Burks, meanwhile, is recovering from foot surgery, which doesn’t help his value. Instead, the Knicks returned a Pistons second-rounder to its original owner and added Miami’s top-55 protected pick in 2024 (I’m a little confused why this one was even necessary; normally, top-55 protected picks are used only for minimum consideration) to get Detroit to bite.

    In the end, they shed more than $28 million in salaries between the three vets as well as another $4.5 million that they would have had to pay the No. 11 pick had they kept it.

    How does the Brunson deal happen?
    Make no mistake about it; the cap room they created is for Brunson.

    The team can structure an offer for Brunson in various ways.

    It could use all of the $29.4 million in cap room to offer him as a starting salary, then add on a max of 5 percent raises each ensuing year. That offer would come out to approximately $126 million over four seasons. If the Knicks were considering that route, it would be more realistic for them to open up just a hint more room, most likely by waiving the non-guaranteed Gibson, then offer Brunson a max contract, which would start with a salary of $30.5 million in 2022-23 and add up to $130 million over four seasons.

    Chances are, though, it won’t go down that way. A max deal for Brunson would be gargantuan.

    The Brunson number that’s been bouncing around the league for a few days now is $110 million over four seasons, which ordinarily would call for a starting salary a shade above $25 million. It’s possible, though, that the amount of cap room the Knicks opened up was no coincidence. If they started a four-year contract at $29.4 million, they could give Brunson salaries that decrease by 5 percent each season and the deal would come out to just short of $110 million total.

    It’s an unconventional contract structure but is hardly unheard of and would give the organization more financial flexibility down the road. More importantly, the Knicks’ long-term strategy seems to be to remain competitive in the short term, then make a play for a disgruntled star on the trade market. Decreasing salaries would make Brunson’s contract more tradeable, too.

    If the Knicks and Brunson agree, the Mavericks could try to finagle a sign and trade. Remember, the Knicks’ two deals with the Pistons are not official, yet. Dallas could try to loop in Detroit for a three-teamer with the hopes of creating a massive trade exception. If you know you’re losing Brunson either way, you may as well try to get something back for him.

    Brunson sign-and-trades, however, are inherently complicated, because the former second-round pick is subject to a quirk in the collective-bargaining agreement, Base Year Compensation, which makes matching salaries for free agents receiving raises of 20 percent or more particularly difficult.

    What’s all the rage about Brunson, anyway?
    Need + production + family = comfort.

    The Knicks sought out a point guard from the moment the offseason began. For most of last season, the position belonged to either Walker, who had lost his quickness, or Burks, a natural wing. By no coincidence, the attack often appeared disorganized. The Knicks were slow getting into their sets. No squad dished fewer assists. That wasn’t going to happen for a second consecutive season. And clearly, the team wasn’t ready to hand the reins over to 22-year-old spark plug Immanuel Quickley, a bench scorer during his first two seasons.

    Brunson is the top point guard on the market, and it’s not like there are big names on valuable contracts that people around the league anticipate will get traded this summer. The Pacers could move Malcolm Brogdon, but he has a long injury history, has $68 million over three years remaining on his contract and would take assets to acquire. The Timberwolves could part with D’Angelo Russell, but he’s on a max. But the Knicks wouldn’t have to give up anything for Brunson, at all.

    The family may be the most important part of it all.

    Brunson’s father, Rick, played for Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau a couple of decades ago, when Thibodeau was an assistant with the Knicks and Brunson was a point guard. He later became an assistant for Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota. The Knicks, with murmurs about Jalen Brunson turning into shouts, ever-so-coincidentally hired Rick to Thibodeau’s staff a month ago.

    The connections go deeper. Rick was Knicks president Leon Rose’s first client, as well, back when Rose was an agent at CAA. Today, Leon Rose’s son, Sam, is one of Jalen Brunson’s representatives at the same agency Leon once headed.

    New York’s interest in Brunson was no secret. Leading into the draft, a source told me that if the Knicks dumped salary on draft night, it was a good tell that they felt confident about their chances at the former second-round pick. They’ve done more than just get off Walker’s $9.2 million. A team doesn’t make the Burks-Noel deal if it isn’t certain it’s getting Brunson … even though the trade occurred two days before the start of free agency, when front offices are allowed to start negotiating with free agents, and no one in the NBA has ever, ever tampered with another team’s player before.

    Brunson has starred alongside Luka Doncic over his first four pro seasons, taking a leap in 2020-21, when he became one of the top bench guards in the league. (I put him third on my NBA Sixth Man of the Year ballot that season.) He crept into the starting lineup this past season and then mashed the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors during Dallas’ conference finals run.

    He averaged 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 50-37-84 shooting during the regular season but put up 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists on 47-35-80 shooting during the playoffs.

    What’s the latest on Mitchell Robinson?
    Robinson will likely become unrestricted when free agency begins, though the Knicks still have an opportunity to sign him to an extension just before the buzzer.

    New York can offer him up to $55 million over four years in an extension offer. Once he becomes a free agent, they are allowed to give him up to the max. The two sides have negotiated on and off all season but haven’t reached an agreement.

    Assuming Robinson becomes a free agent, it sounds like he could command something in the realm of his extension number. Centers like him tend to receive anywhere from $10 million to $13 million in average annual value. The most common comparisons in recent years are the Celtics’ Robert Williams III (four years, $48 million), the Wizards’ Daniel Gafford (three years, $40 million) or the Magic’s Wendell Carter Jr. (four years, $50 million).

    The Clippers and their starting center, Ivica Zubac, agreed to an extension Tuesday reportedly worth $33 million over three years, which could set the market for someone like Robinson, even if those two players’ situations aren’t identical. The Clippers declined a cheaper team option on Zubac, paying him a year earlier than they needed to, which could mean they got him for slightly less than market value.

    The Pistons had previously shown interest in Robinson, but they traded for an athletic, rim-diving center, Jalen Duren, on draft night and just dealt for Noel. The Raptors could express interest in Robinson on the open market, but they couldn’t sign him for more than the mid-level exception, which starts at $10.3 million. If the market for Robinson falls to the MLE, the Knicks could be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him.

    He, like Brunson, would be complicated to sign and trade in a two-team deal because of Base Year Compensation.

    Can Knicks play all of these young players?
    Or maybe the better question is, will the Knicks play all of these young players?

    They have seven guys 24 years old or younger: RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride, Cam Reddish, Quickley and Sims. If they bring back Robinson, he’ll make eight.

    It’s not like Brunson, assuming he signs with New York, is a geezer, either. He’ll be 26 at the start of next season.

    The Knicks struggled to get a good portion of the youth consistent playing time last season. Toppin got stuck behind Julius Randle. Quickley didn’t get to run the offense much until the spring. Sims was out of the rotation until after the trade deadline. Reddish never got much of a shot, even after the team traded a first-round pick for him.

    They’ve dealt three of the veterans away. Yet, playing time is no guarantee for the whole crew.

    Evan Fournier has two years remaining on his contract. The Knicks have spent the past few weeks getting an idea of his trade market and clearly deemed the assets it would take to attach to him too costly to complete any deal. Sending out Burks and Noel saved them $19 million in salaries, a hair more than Fournier makes, and took only a couple of second-rounders, one of which wasn’t even a valuable pick. It’s possible they would have had to attach a first-rounder to Fournier, who can hit free agency in 2024. He’ll command playing time, assuming he’s on the opening-day roster.

    Derrick Rose is returning. Randle is still around, too.

    With the team as is, not all the young guys would get to play. Of course, not everyone will stay healthy and the roster may not stay the same. It is, after all, the most unpredictable time of the year.

    This could, however, explain some of the Knicks’ willingness to discuss trades involving Reddish. Sources say the Knicks had been open to calls about the 22-year-old they acquired in January. There has been some interest. When a young, 6-foot-8 athletic wing becomes available, someone will at least shoot Rose a text, even if it may be difficult to recoup the value New York got for him six months ago.

    But armed with space for Brunson, the Knicks are in a different place today than they were before the Burks-Noel trade.

    Will Julius Randle be on Knicks next season?
    I can’t say for sure, but my best guess is that the answer is, yes.

    Randle didn’t help his trade value with the way he performed last season, morphing into one of the league’s least-efficient high-volume scorers while also taking steps back as a defender and facilitator. The Knicks, meanwhile, didn’t help the cause, either. The 27-year-old’s new contract, worth at least $106 million over four years, kicks in at the start of next season. Teams don’t appear willing to take on that bulk without the Knicks supplying sweeteners.

    Of course, never say never. Maybe the Knicks decide it’s worth it to swap Randle for another player on an expensive contract, though I haven’t heard of any traction. Maybe after acquiring all of those picks on draft night, the team uses first-rounders to move on from Randle. But it appears the best option is to rehab his value.

    People refer to 2021-22 as a regression to Randle’s previous self only one season after he earned NBA Most Improved Player. In reality, it wasn’t. It was actually a dip below his norm. The efficiency plummeted; the shot selection cratered. There’s a world where Randle doesn’t get back to his MIP level but still rises to his caliber in, say, New Orleans, when he was an effective scorer and relentless paint presence.

    If the latter happens, people will view his contract differently, and the Knicks can make a better decision on how they want to handle his future.

    What’s the latest with RJ Barrett’s extension?
    Barrett is about to find out what the Knicks truly think of him.

    At the start of free agency, he is eligible for an extension. New York can offer him a max deal, which would be worth approximately $185 million over five years.

    The general sense around the league is that Barrett hasn’t proven enough to make every dollar the Knicks can pay him. The deadline to agree to an extension is the day before the regular season begins. If the two sides don’t agree, then Barrett will become a restricted free agent in 2023.

    The Athletic detailed possibilities for Barrett’s extension in a comprehensive article earlier this week.

    Can we talk about draft picks more?
    There’s a residual effect from the three trades the Knicks made on draft night: they now own a little piece of the Wizards’ and the Pistons’ futures.

    The 2023 Washington and the 2023 Detroit picks they acquired from Oklahoma City are both protected for a while. The Wizards one has protections that get lighter each year through 2026 and becomes two second-rounders if he doesn’t convey by then. The Pistons picks have protections that lessen through 2027, then becomes one second-rounder. (See the full details here.)

    I’ve seen some people paint the ongoing protections as a negative. And, no kidding, it would be straight-up dandy to have the sub-.500 Pistons’ first-round pick in 2023. But no pick exchanged for the 11th selection in the draft is coming in unprotected. And if you’re getting protected picks, those protections may as well extend for a while, as these do.

    If the Wizards or Pistons want to make a big trade, they may have to go through the Knicks first. Because those protections go so far out, the next first-round pick the Wizards can deal is their 2028 one; the next first-rounder the Pistons can part with is their 2029 one.

    What if Bradley Beal re-signs with Washington, the most-likely scenario when free agency begins, but says he wants the team to make a big trade to try to win now, a supreme possibility since Beal has said he pled the Wizards to win now for a few years? Or what if the Wizards feel the pressure to piece together multiple first-rounders in a trade at the deadline? They might just have to hit up the Knicks and offer New York an asset to unprotect the 2023 pick so they can trade their 2025 and ’27 ones.

    The same goes for the Pistons. They aren’t competing now, but that Detroit pick is top-18 protected in 2023 and ’24. It won’t convey for a minute. But what happens when Cade Cunningham is entering Year 5, and Jaden Ivey is in Year 4 and there’s pressure to win bigger? Those protections extend years beyond that hypothetical. Detroit might want to make a big move. If it does, it might have to hit up the Knicks and offer something enticing enough to remove the protections.

    There are the scenarios where the Wizards try for the playoffs in 2024 or ’25 and narrowly miss them. There are ones where the Pistons get stuck in the same scenario in 2025 or ’26. Either could mean sending the Knicks a pick around No. 11, maybe a tad later, just down the line from when they were supposed to pick 11th in 2022. Those organizations have lived on the bubble of the playoffs for much of the past decade or so.

    Way-out-into-the-future picks aren’t so bad if you have patience.

    https://theathletic.com/3389300/2022.../?redirected=1

  3. #3
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    Knicks among teams interested in trading for Dejounte Murray

    New York is still widely expected to acquire Jalen Brunson

    The Knicks are among the teams who have expressed interest in acquiring Dejounte Murray via trade, SNY has learned.

    Bleacher Report stated that the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs had previously had talks around a potential trade for Murray.

    New York is widely expected to acquire Jalen Brunson via free agency, per teams monitoring Brunson’s free agency.

    The club has cleared roughly $30 million in cap space with recent trades of Kemba Walker, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Detroit Pistons.

    They have the space to offer Brunson a significant salary. Yahoo! Sports reported that Brunson is expected to get a 4-year, $110 million offer from New York. SNY hasn’t independently confirmed that figure, but it’s in the vicinity of what rival executives expect New York to offer the point guard.

    Some with the Knicks have talked about Murray’s fit in the backcourt if they are able to land Brunson. Some members of the organization are concerned about the backcourt of Brunson and Evan Fournier defensively.

    Murray, one of the top young guards in the NBA, would give New York a premier backcourt defender.

    Bleacher Report stated that San Antonio is looking for at least three first-round picks in a deal for Murray.

    The Knicks have 11 first-round picks over the next seven drafts. So the club presumably has the draft capital to put together a competitive offer for Murray.

    NBA reporter Marc Stein had written in his newsletter that it was believed that the Knicks could now pivot to trying to make a run at Murray or another target of his caliber using their many draft picks. It is unclear what other star would be on New York's radar this offseason.

    They have long been linked to Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz. But there is no sign that Utah has any desire to trade Mitchell at the moment.
    https://sny.tv/articles/knicks-among...ejounte-murray




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    Everything we know so far in one place so we're not discussing the same things in 5 different threads.

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    interesting, so we basically gave DET back their 2nd round pick next year. the MIA pick is top 55 protected so almost a fake pick.

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    So the interesting thing is we didn't even really need the Kemba trade to clear room for Brunson.

    and shedding Noel & Burks only cost us essentially 1 second round pick. Those 2 alone would have allowed us to offer Brunson 4/110m

    I would imagine we have reasons for clearing $34m in cap though. Let's see.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by nycericanguy View Post
    So the interesting thing is we didn't even really need the Kemba trade to clear room for Brunson.

    and shedding Noel & Burks only cost us essentially 1 second round pick. Those 2 alone would have allowed us to offer Brunson 4/110m

    I would imagine we have reasons for clearing $34m in cap though. Let's see.
    Have to imagine we’re trying to add another piece
    Spurs Sim league
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    The opportunity is there for Murray. It just makes too much sense. Let's do it. Brunson and Murray.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Garrett2010 View Post
    The opportunity is there for Murray. It just makes too much sense. Let's do it. Brunson and Murray.
    i cant talk myself into Murray and Brunson. In today's game to trout out a lineup with 5 low volume/questionable 3pt shooters is just suicide for spacing.

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    If Knicks are shopping Cam, I honestly don't think Murray is the next target. The Knicks would need a big wing badly. RJ can't be the only player we have playing SF.

    Murray is the better option if I had to chose one. He's the guy that is easier to build around. A big PG who can guard SG's is one of the most valuable things to have in todays NBA imo. It allows your team to take advantage of the 3000 combo guards we come cross annually.
    Last edited by Bivory; 06-29-2022 at 04:14 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bivory View Post
    If Knicks are shopping Cam, I honestly don't think Murray is the next target. The Knicks would need a big wing badly. RJ can't be the only player we have playing SF.
    Kinda agree. I think Fournier is the next domino to drop.

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