Even if things don’t look overwhelmingly promising right now for the New York Knicks, the organization is beginning to take the necessary steps to turn its roster into a contender in the Eastern Conference.
It’s just that those big moves might not happen immediately.
With an eye on the 2019 free agency period, which will see big names like Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson and Kemba Walker available, the Knicks are starting to shed sizeable contracts in order to create the space needed to make a serious run at some of these stars.
Per Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, that means the likes of Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah could see their time in New York come to an end rather shortly.
The 32-year-old shooting guard Lee is slated to make over $12 million in each of the next two seasons before his contract runs out. That’s quite a chunk of change for a player who averaged 12 points per game last season.
As a shooting guard, Lee likely won’t see much playing time next season either. The Knicks look slated to try Frank Ntilikina at the 2 alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., who flopped as the team’s attempted replacement of Carmelo Anthony at small forward.
It prompted the team to draft Kevin Knox out of Kentucky with the ninth-overall pick at last week’s draft.
Noah’s contract is even worse considering his relationship with the Knicks has been nothing but toxic over the past few years. Troubles on and off the court along with injuries has limited Noah to just 53 games over the first two seasons of his massive four-year, $72.5 million deal. The 33-year-old is still set to make $18 and $19 million respectively over the next two seasons with the Knicks.
General manager Scott Perry admitted that the Knicks won’t do much with the space created by the shedding of any contracts this offseason and rightfully so. Kristaps Porzingis’ season is in doubt as he continues to recover from a torn ACL while the free-agent class itself does not offer the same bevy of playmakers that it will next year.
The talented point guard in Boston, Irving, has been linked to the Knicks since he asked for a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. He won’t sign an extension next year with Boston and Madison Square Garden could be very high on his list in terms of future homes.