There still haven’t been any major developments reported on the Knicks trade front this week. As SNY noted last week, Alec Burks and Bruce Brown have been squarely on New York’s radar. The price for Utah’s Jordan Clarkson would be significant.
There are people with the Knicks who see Dejounte Murray as a strong fit next to Jalen Brunson. But as of last week, it was unlikely that the Knicks would pay Atlanta’s asking price.
Of course, things change quickly in the NBA, especially at this point in the season. A deal that looks dead on Jan. 25 can be revived well before Feb. 8. An opposing team’s trade – like Miami’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry – could spur a team like the Knicks to change their thinking ahead of the deadline.
The Hawks could decide to lower their price on Murray or the Knicks could decide to meet Atlanta’s demands. The Knicks could give Utah enough for Clarkson or pursue another player available via trade. Maybe Utah’s Colin Sexton? Maybe an injury – such as Isaiah Hartenstein’s Achilles ailment – causes a team to change its trade approach.
But let’s say things remain relatively stable for the Knicks and they decide to make a trade for Burks to bolster their bench.
With an assist from capsheets.com’s Yossi Gozlan, here are a few Knicks packages for Burks that satisfy NBA trade rules:
Burks makes $10.4 million this season. The Knicks would need to send out $5.4 million to complete a trade.
That’s difficult to do with their minimum-salary players.
The Knicks also don’t have a trade exception large enough to absorb Burks’ salary. They could get a third team involved. But that gets complicated.
One of the most straightforward paths to obtain Burks is to send out Evan Fournier and draft compensation.
Fournier is making $19 million this season and has a team option for next year.
To make the salaries match, Detroit would need to add an additional player. The Pistons could execute the trade by including former Knick Kevin Knox II. But Knox can’t be traded until Feb. 8 – the day of the trade deadline. So the Knicks and Pistons would have to execute the trade on deadline day by 3 p.m.
That’s not ideal, but it’s certainly feasible.
Alternatively, Detroit could include someone like Monte Morris, who would provide even more backcourt depth.
But it’s hard to see how New York would implement both Burks and Morris into an already-crowded rotation. Outside of Killian Hayes, it’s hard to see Detroit including another player on the roster in a Burks deal to make the math work.
If the Knicks traded Fournier for Burks, they would lose a valuable trade chip for the 2024 offseason in Fournier.
Burks – a familiar face for Tom Thibodeau & Co. — will be a free agent in 2024. So the Knicks wouldn’t be able to use his salary in a potential trade.
In this scenario, New York would have the option to sign Burks to a two-year extension after trading for him.
Doing so would allow them to include his salary in a trade. But they would have to wait until six months after the date of the extension to move him.
So in this hypothetical, any trade involving Burks would take place later in the offseason.
Something else worth noting here: Detroit has a $5.7 million trade exception generated from the Marvin Bagley deal. The Knicks could deal a player like Malachi Flynn into that trade exception to increase their roster flexibility.
HoopsHype first reported that Burks was on the Knicks’ radar. The Athletic first reported that the Knicks were taking calls on Grimes.