With Kristaps Porzingis still recovering from a torn ACL, the New York Knicks headed into the 2018-19 NBA season with the goal of developing their young core. Whether they admit it or not, the Knicks obviously have no intention of earning a playoff spot in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference. Ending the season with one of the worst records in the league will strengthen their chance of acquiring a lottery pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Aside from adding another young and promising talent on their roster, the Knicks are currently in a strong position to sign a max free agent next summer. The 2019 NBA free agency will be featuring several NBA superstars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan. However, to have enough salary cap room to sign a player like Durant or Leonard, the Knicks will be needing to make another roster move before free agency hits next July.
As of now, veteran shooting guard Courtney Lee is emerging as the top trade candidate in New York. According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, the Knicks may consider engaging in a trade deal with the Sacramento Kings to dump Lee’s contract. In a proposed trade deal, the Knicks will be trading Lee and a 2020 second-round pick to the Kings for Zach Randolph. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine.
Courtney Lee says he needs time. WIll he get it? https://t.co/mgSTAsYGJC
— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) December 8, 2018
Trading a future second-round pick to get rid of Courtney Lee’s contract is something that the Knicks should consider, especially if they are confident that they could acquire a max free agent next summer. As Favale noted, the deal will also be beneficial for the Kings. Aside from receiving another draft asset, Lee could help the Kings become more competitive in the deep Western Conference.
“Theoretically, then, the Kings can sponge up a really bad deal and still have max-contract capacity. Rolling the dice on Courtney Lee is nothing by that measure. His 2019-20 salary isn’t great ($12.8 million), but if he keeps trending up in his recovery from a neck injury, he’ll augment the wing rotation with quality shooting and active backcourt defense. Should the experiment flatline, Sacramento has what could be an early second-rounder, and Lee becomes a nice trade chip over the offseason as an expiring contract.”
Though the Kings are still in the middle of a rebuilding process, they won’t gain anything from losing games since they no longer own their 2019 first-round pick. Despite absorbing Lee’s contract, the King will still have the power to become major players in the 2019 NBA free agency.