Oh, so you thought we were already past the whole rumor mill and the sensational headlines after crossing Thursday’s trade deadline, didn’t you? Couldn’t be more wrong!
From now and until March 1 (more on that later) all eyes will focus on the filled-full-of-washed-vets free-agent market. With trades not possible to complete for the remainder of the season and into the playoffs, the only way teams can add new players to their rosters is by signing them off the street or moving them from their G League rosters (hello, Jacob!) to the NBA squad.
As things stood on Friday morning, per Bobby Marks of ESPN, as many as 15 teams ranked inside the top 10 in their conference have at least one roster spot open entering the weekend and can therefore add a free agent at any point to fill those gaps until reaching the 15-man limit.
Open roster spots— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 9, 2024
Playoff contenders (top-10 in each conference)
SAC-1 (w/o Lopez)
*= Apron team and cannot sign a player that was waived and had a pre-existing salary of $12.4M+
By the time Marks filled the list above the Knicks had three spots, but as I’m writing this post that number has been cut down to two following the extension of Taj Gibson to his second 10-day contract.
This year, thanks to the latest CBA, there is a new rule I'm place that limits who can sign who during the buyout season. Per Mark Deeks of HoopsHype, “Teams that are above the first tax apron cannot sign players whose previous salary was more than the amount of the Non-Taxpayer MLE or $12.4 million—the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, L.A. Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, and Phoenix Suns.”
During the past few hours and also during the next few days, teams all across the Association will trim their rosters. As John Hollinger of The Athletic explained on Friday, those cuts mainly happen because of two different reasons:
- The first is when a team must waive a player to complete a trade.
- The second is when a veteran player isn’t in a team’s plans and it gives him his wings, either by immediately cutting him or agreeing to a buyout.
Anyway, what matters the most here, however, is the aforementioned March 1 deadline. That’s because only players waived before that date are eligible to play in the postseason after signing with a new team.
Removing that Gibson-filled spot from New York, and adding all open spots from the list above curated by Marks, there are 23 positions available across the NBA for players to fill during the next three weeks—which doesn’t mean all of those spots will be filled by them, mind you.
Without further ado, here are some players who have already hit the open market or are expected to do so during the next few days that might be of interest to the Knicks organization (player blurbs excerpted from Hollinger and Deek’s articles) ahead of the buyout season.
Kyle Lowry (Charlotte Hornets)
(Cannot be signed by an apron team)
“Lowry has looked far from his peak so far this season, averaging 8.2 points in 28 minutes a game and without the bite in his defense any longer.“
“Lowry’s shot-creation capability has gone off a cliff this season at age 37.”
“He may still have something in the tank as something of a “3-and-D” point guard for a team that can put enough ballhandling and shot creation at the wing spots to keep Lowry off the ball.”
Marcus Morris Sr. (San Antonio Spurs)
(Cannot be signed by an apron team)
“Morris, it would appear, has hit the journeyman stage of his career. Yet having averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds per game so far this season, he still has something to give, should anyone want it.“
“He’s definitely not what he was, but as a backup four or a junk-ball five, teams could do worse because of his floor-spacing potential.“
Robin Lopez (Sacramento Kings)
“It might be the end of the line for the 35-year-old Lopez, who is ineligible to return to the Bucks and has only played 65 minutes this season. The NBA’s leading mascot tormentor is a beloved locker room guy, however, and that could allow him to stick in a 15th roster spot.“
“The Kings will not be keeping him, putting the 35-year-old center on the market once more. Anyone who signs Robin will get size, a veteran presence, and some jokes.“
Bismack Biyombo (Memphis Grizzlies)
Update: Biyombo just signed a deal with the OKC Thunder
“Gave the Grizzlies some good minutes as a traditional rim-running and shot-blocking center earlier this season; the Grizzlies only waived him once it was clear their season was circling the drain and it was time to work on next year.”
”He can’t shoot at all and might have the worst hands in the league, but you’re not getting this level of rim protection from any other scrap-heap center.”
Danuel House (Detroit Pistons)
“House is 30 and hasn’t been good in five years, but the temptation of an athletic wing who can sort-of shoot is pretty strong, and the wing market isn’t exactly flooded with talent.“
“There may still be some value to be had in him as a player; in 34 games for the Sixers this season, the 6-foot-7 wing has averaged 4.2 points per game, and brings postseason experience with him.”
Danilo Gallinari (Detroit Pistons)
“Given his 20 years as a professional, 16 seasons in the NBA, National Team runs, 35 years of age, and injury history, Gallinari’s days defending the perimeter for more than three seconds at a time are done.“
“Even though he is not a rim protector, he has the size to reinvent himself as a modern-day stretch five and has done some of that in the few minutes he has managed so far. Gallo has scored 50 points in the only 79 minutes he has managed for the Pistons on the season and could be a wise and versatile bench-scoring option for someone else’s postseason push, as long as they have a place to hide him on defense.
“The walking definition of toast on defense as a 6-10 stretch five, but Gallinari still provides enough stretch ability and individual scoring with second units to make him valuable in the right situation.“
You can reach out and follow Antonio on X / Twitter at @chapulana