The New York Knicks dumped Kemba Walker’s deal on Detroit’s salary cap on Draft night as part of a three-team deal. Just a few hours ago, the Knicks got back at it and worked out another trade with the Pistons in which both Nernels Noel and Alec Burks—along with a pair of second-round picks—will land in Detroit ahead of next season.
Those two moves were all the Knicks needed to open enough cap space to make a run at upcoming free agent and New York’s offseason no. 1 target Jalen Brunson. The Knicks have now opened around $30 million in cap space in the last week with this summer’s free agency opening at 6 pm on Thursday, June 30. Adding Taj Gibson’s $5 million to that—New York is expected to waive the veteran, though he is expected to re-sign with the franchise later this offseason—New York is looking at a figure close to $35 million of space to add free agents come July 1.
As Ian Begley of SNY reports, New York entered discussions with the Pistons earlier this week regarding potential trades involving Evan Fournier and Cam Reddish, and it’s not clear if the talks will keep on going after this Noel/Burks trade got completed. This latter transaction allows the Knicks to offer Brunson a max deal of four years and $131 million (that deal would start at $30.5 million) if they want to, but there is a near-consensus agreement among media members and league sources that landing Brunson would “only” take a $105 million, four-year deal at around $26 million per year.
"Teams do not think Jalen Brunson is the last move for the Knicks. Opposing teams see Brunson and Dejounte Murray as an attractive fit in the backcourt."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) June 28, 2022
Could the Knicks have another move to make even if they land Brunson? @IanBegley with the latest: https://t.co/O3fF0V5oy6 pic.twitter.com/HnhK2wq1iJ
Now, for the very saucy news, the same Ian Begley just dropped another note in which he points out that “teams monitoring New York’s approach in the offseason expect that they will be active in trades/free agency even if they sign Brunson.” An unexpected player to (seemingly) be available in the trade market is Spurs guard Dejounte Murray as San Antonio is pondering whether or not to enter full-rebuild mode.
“New York would have the draft capital to put together a package for San Antonio Spurs’ Dejounte Murray.” That quote is related to the possibility of the Knicks adding one or more players this offseason given the ample cap room created and the abundance of assets the franchise has been collecting of late—namely, three first-round picks coming from Oklahoma City in exchange for last draft’s no. 11 pick.
New York is in possession of four first-round picks in the 2023 draft (its own plus one each from Dallas, Washington, and Detroit). LJ Ellis of Spurs Talk has recently reported that San Antonio’s asking price for trading Dejounte Murray away would be “four first-round draft picks with little to no protections” or “alternatively, [...] three minimally protected first-rounders and two unprotected first-round pick swaps.” That surely is a hefty price to pay for Murray, who is coming off a season in which he got named to the All-Star game for the first time in his five-year career.
It’s widely known that the Atlanta Hawks are pursuing a deal to land Murray that might include John Collins, although San Antonio seems to not be interested in the big man rather preferring to get Danilo Gallinari’s expiring/partially-guaranteed deal. If the latter option was to be the one chosen by both franchises to make this trade work, then the deal would need to happen before the end of Wednesday as Gallinari’s contract becomes fully guaranteed on Thursday, June 30. Not completing the transaction by then might end the Hawks' chances of acquiring Murray.
Speaking about other suitors, Ellis wrote that “an insider close to the situation says that the Spurs have multiple teams making a strong push for Murray besides the Hawks. One Eastern Conference team, he says, is offering three first-round draft picks and a desirable young player in a proposed swap.” Whether that’s New York or not is unknown, although it is true that the Knicks check all boxes: they are in possession of more than three first-rounders and could throw a young player such as Immanuel Quickley or Obi Toppin in to facilitate the trade.
Ian Begley made it clear that he “[does] not know if the Knicks have touched base with San Antonio,” but added that “rival executives see Murray and Brunson as a strong fit, for what it’s worth.”
With Brunson virtually locked into signing with the Knicks and some cap room still available after that (depending on Brunson’s deal), along with New York’s draft assets and young players already on the roster, we’ll need to keep a close eye on the next moves of the Leon Rose-led franchise during the next few hours and days.
Looks like it’s going to be a wild summer, folks.