A few notes on where things stand after Day 2 of free agency:
MONEY TO SPEND?
The Knicks used most of their non taxpayer midlevel exception to sign Donte DiVincenzo to a four-year, $50 million deal on Saturday. By doing so, New York is hard-capped at $172 million during the 2023-24 season.
They currently have 14 players under contract and roughly $162 million in player salary. If they want to add any other free agents, they’d need to use the veteran’s minimum exception.
Barring a trade, their rotation is seemingly locked in for 2023-24. Based on the current roster, Tom Thibodeau could use Josh Hart or RJ Barrett off the bench at power forward in smaller lineups. Thibodeau was a fan of the Jericho Sims–Isaiah Hartenstein front-court last season. So he may go to that alignment against bigger reserve lineups.
Is there a bigger deal out there for the Knicks? James Harden and Damian Lillard are both available via trade. But as of late Saturday night, I don’t believe New York has been aggressively pursuing either player. They spoke to the Clippers about a potential Paul George trade prior to the draft. But Los Angeles, reportedly, would want to keep George and Kawhi Leonard together to play with Harden if they’re able to trade for him.
As things currently stand, the Knicks seem likely to enter next season with the 2022-23 roster mostly intact.
TOPPIN TO INDY
The Knicks received two future second-round picks from Indiana in the Toppin trade. The move was more so about shedding salary for New York; Indiana was able to absorb Toppin’s $6.8 million salary into its cap space.
The trade capped off a frustrating three-year stint for Toppin. He played limited minutes behind two-time All Star Julius Randle. Did he ever get the chance to succeed in New York? That’s up for debate. But if Toppin thrives in Indiana and the 2023-24 Knicks struggle, New York will receive justified criticism for the way they handled Toppin.
If they continue to show steady progress as a team and build off of last year’s 47-win season, the criticism over Toppin will be more muted.
One thing worth noting: most of the NBA world questioned the Knicks at this time last year when they signed Jalen Brunson to a four-year, $104 million deal. Twelve months later, that looks like one of the best free-agent signings in franchise history.
SO it’s difficult to accurately judge offseason moves on the second day of free agency. But the Knicks have certainly left themselves open to criticism over the way they handled Toppin.
DAME AND THE NETS
The trade talks surrounding Lillard will continue on Sunday. Late Saturday afternoon, the Nets were contacted as a potential third team in a trade that would have sent Lillard to Miami. I don’t know if talks progressed but the Nets would have received Tyler Herro as a third team in the trade. They presumably would have also received draft picks for helping to facilitate the deal.
It’s unclear which Nets players were discussed as part of the three-team trade and if Brooklyn had any other stipulations for completing a deal. But as of Saturday evening, the Nets were, at least, open to the idea of a trade that landed Herro in Brooklyn.
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