The Knicks intend to chase Davis Bertans in free agency, according to a new report from NBC Sports, and though New York will face fierce competition for the Latvian Laser, the news suggests a competent front office with a basic understanding of the modern NBA.
Bertans, who is 6’10” and turns 28 in November, is a career 41% three-point marksman coming off his best year in four professional seasons.
He sat out the bubble as a preventative measure to make sure he wouldn’t suffer a serious injury that could hurt his chances of landing a big contract, and according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports, Bertans will be receiving interest from a number of teams, including current employer the Washington Wizards and the Knicks, as well as the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns.
The Hawks and Knicks are among several teams with cap room expected to pursue Davis Bertans in free agency, @NBCSWashington has learned. But the Wizards are motivated to keep him.— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) August 26, 2020
Some details on Bertans' outlook in here: https://t.co/XaANFEtxao
In order to lure Bertans away from enemy admirers, the Knicks will have to be ready to pony up some significant dough. The Wizards are supposedly going to make re-signing Bertans a priority, and they own his Bird Rights, meaning they could go over the salary cap to keep him. In what could wind up being a stroke of good luck for alternative teams like the Knicks, the Wizards reportedly hope to avoid the luxury tax, and they already owe John Wall and Bradley Beal a ton of money.
Still, the Hawks are expected to be “particularly aggressive,” according to the NBC Sports report, and they’ll have the most cap space of all the apparent suitors, although the Knicks might not be that far behind. If they let everyone who has a team option for next year walk, the Knicks will only be on the books for about $65 million in salary. Currently, the Hawks have just under $58 million committed to next year’s salary cap, according to Spotrac.com. As of right now, it’s anticipated that next year’s salary cap could be around $109 million.
Bertans is an ideal free agent target for the Knicks, which, in case you haven’t heard, were incredibly poor at spacing the floor this season. In 54 games with the Wizards this year, Bertans averaged career highs in the following per-game statistics: points (15.4), rebounds (4.5), blocks (0.6), steals (0.7), minutes (29.3) and three pointers made (3.7). He shot 43% from the field, 42% from deep and 85% from the free throw line.
In December, The Athletic reported that Bertans could be in line to land between $10 and $15 million per year. Considering the Knicks paid Taj Gibson almost $10 million this year and gave Bobby Portis $15 million, upping the ante for a young player who provides exactly what you’re missing seems like a worthwhile bet.
We won’t know whether the Knicks are able to pry Bertans away from the Wizards and other interested teams for quite some time — it’s looking like the originally planned start date of free agency, Oct. 18, is going to be pushed back. But it’s a positive development that we, the public, are hearing that the Knicks intend to pursue Bertans. He’s exactly the type of player the Knicks need to help guys like R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina reach their true potential.