As the NBA’s February 7 trade deadline draws nearer, a number of NBA teams are expected to make some changes to their lineups, either in hopes of improving their chances of contending for a playoff spot or freeing up salary cap space to sign top free agents in the coming offseason. One of these teams could be the New York Knicks, who have reportedly been in touch with rival teams regarding their current top scorer and one of their established veterans.
Citing a subscriber-only report from the Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov, Bleacher Report wrote on Tuesday that a number of NBA teams have made trade inquiries about Knicks wingmen Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee. While the specifics of these inquiries were not elaborated on, Vorkunov noted that New York does not have any plans to trade other players or future draft picks to ensure the two players get traded.
In 41 games this season, Tim Hardaway Jr. has averaged a team-leading 19.6 points, along with 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists for the New York Knicks. However, as Bleacher Report pointed out, the 26-year-old guard/forward has also been slowed down at points due to injuries and is currently shooting only 39.3 percent from the field, his lowest shooting percentage since his second year in the league.
Courtney Lee, on the other hand, has seen his role with the Knicks greatly diminished after suiting up as New York’s starting shooting guard for most of the past two seasons. The 33-year-old Lee, who averaged 12 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in the 2017-18 campaign, has been limited to just 10 games in the current season, with averages of just 5.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists, per Basketball-Reference. As further noted by Bleacher Report, Lee has also been inactive for close to a month, having last played for the Knicks on December 27.
Citing contract and salary information from Spotrac, Bleacher Report wrote that Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee will be earning $18.2 million and $12.8 million respectively in the 2019-20 NBA season. Hardaway, who has a $19 million player option for the 2020-21 campaign, also has a “kicker” in his contract that will increase his salary by 15 percent should he get traded to another team.
With their 10-35 record putting them at 14th place out of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks are widely expected to miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year and post their fifth straight season with at least 50 losses. According to Bleacher Report, this could push the team to free up salary cap space for the 2019 free agency season and do so by trading two of their highest-paid players.