Before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline, veteran small forward Maurice Harkless found himself being included in the trade package that the Los Angeles Clippers sent to the New York Knicks to acquire Marcus Morris Sr. When he first arrived in New York, the Knicks were highly expected to buy out Harkless’ contract and allow him to join a legitimate title contender in the current season as an unrestricted free agent. However, though he’s on an expiring deal, it seems like the Knicks have an interest in keeping Harkless long-term in New York.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Knicks President of Basketball Operations Leon Rose will explore the possibility of re-signing Harkless when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“The Knicks’ interest in retaining Maurice Harkless for next season grew after they obtained him in the Marcus Morris deal with the Clippers on Feb. 6, according to NBA sources. Originally, Harkless was just a big expiring contract to make the trade-deadline deal work. After viewing how sharply the 6-foot-7 small forward still played defense and how genuinely the Queens product and former St. John’s star wanted to be a Knick, team executives opened their minds. New Knicks president Leon Rose wanted to examine the 26-year-old closely across the last 16 games as he enters free agency.”
Though he played just 12 games as a Knick and only averaged 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 28.0 percent from beyond the arc, Harkless has already managed to impress the team’s front office. Harkless’ stats may not be outstanding, but his impact on both ends of the floor is very noticeable. Aside from being an incredible defender, Harkless also showed on numerous occasions that he’s capable of efficiently knocking down shots from beyond the arc.
When the NBA resumes, the Knicks plan to use the remaining games in the 2019-20 season to evaluate whether Harkless deserves to be part of their long-term plan or not. As Berman noted, this would be Harkless’ chance to showcase that he really wants to stay with the Knicks.
Even if they fail to bring Harkless back in the 2020 NBA free agency, Berman believes that the Knicks won the trade deadline deal with the Clippers. Aside from Harkless, the Knicks also received a 2020 first-round pick from the Clippers in exchange for Morris Sr. The Knicks could use the draft pick to add another young and promising talent to their roster or as a trade chip if they engage in a potential blockbuster deal this summer.