The Knicks have made solid moves throughout the offseason going from using the 2018 Draft to get two very promising players in Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson. Signing young free agents with solid potential and a reason to play hard in Noah Vonleh, and Mario Hezonja. And a couple more solid potential undrafted players in Alonzo Trier and Tyrius Walker. The Knicks have filled the roster with young talent that has the opportunity to develop strongly with the team. And when you look at the roster its clear the Knicks are moving people in order to clear cap space, develop, and bring in young talent.
Which brings me to these two players, Courtney Lee ($12.3 mil/year) and Tim Hardaway Jr. ($17.3 mil/year). Both play at the shooting guard position and latter of them is overpaid in my opinion. The question many fans bring up are what the plan with these two players is. With the rumors of the Knicks having a serious shot at signing at least max free agent the front office has been making moves in order to increase that cap space. Along with the fact that Joakim Noah and the front office are working towards a deal to stretch the final years of his contract, clearing 12.9 million in cap for the 2019 offseason, but still not enough for two max players. If the Knicks want to bring in two stars they are going to have to trade away a couple more contracted players that are highly paid. In reality the Knicks don’t have many options when it comes to trading players that eat up a lot of the cap. Courtney Lee’s name has been thrown around the rumor mill but in the recent Knick media day Lee shot down those rumors affirming his desire to stay with the Knicks. Lance Thomas is one of the last trading pieces the Knicks can use. Lance being the oldest tenured Knick on the current roster the front office may look to keep him for his veteran presence in the locker room. Tim Hardaway Jr. is only 26 years old, so he still has time to develop into the strong scorer that we have occasionally seen from him. There have been moments when THJ is on the court and he will be unstoppable, coming back to get the ball at the top and pulling up wherever he wants. If he can get more consistent with his scoring he could easily become the second or third scoring option on the team. I think Fizdale can get a lot out of THJ and get his scoring numbers up. And with Porzingis potentially being out for the entire 2018-19 season Fizdale is going to have a lot of time to work with him in practices and games.
It seems like the most reasonable thing to do would be to move Courtney Lee. He is one of the only players we are willing to give up who has actual trade potential. His 3-and-D ability makes him a solid piece on any championship roster and going into his 10th year in the league he doesn’t have many productive years left to contribute on a championship roster. Hypothetically moving Lee in the final two years of his contract to a team for only draft picks would clear up 12.3 million in cap. Obviously we won’t only get draft picks for him but regardless, if he were traded the Knicks will have some more playing money to use when going after those max free agents in 2019. After hearing what Courtney Lee had to say during the Knicks media day and the way the front office has been speaking and acting, I don’t think any moves will be made to clear up more cap space other than the upcoming waive and stretch of Joakim Noah. It feels like the front office is happy with their mix of talent between young players and veterans, and they are looking to develop in house while waiting on Porzingis’ return and the 2019 offseason.