New York Knicks: How Allonzo Trier’s contract impacts 2019 free agency

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks gave Allonzo Trier a two-year contract to stay through 2019-20. How does this impact free agency?

After two months with the main roster, and with a 45-day window set to expire, the New York Knicks handed Allonzo Trier a fresh, two-year contract, thus removing the two-way label. He signed with the Knicks on this deal, but never went to the G League, which started the aforementioned 45-day clock on his NBA service time.

Trier will receive the bi-annual exception, with a team option for 2019-20. It places a cap hold of $3.55 million on him, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Arguably the main takeaway, however, is how this money will impact New York’s cap space for free agency. Marks noted that, with this deal, they have $29.5 million available for July 1, 2019.

If the Knicks decline Trier’s option, they can still re-sign him under a room exception, also according to Marks. That opens $3.5 million in cap space while leaving a reunion open, barring another team offering signing him to an offer sheet that’s too much for New York to match, since he will become a restricted free agent in this scenario.

It’s an interesting, underlying part of this: the Knicks can decline Trier’s option, free up space to sign a player to a maximum contract and re-sign Trier. This is a risk, allowing teams to speak to their beloved undrafted free agent.

Someone may offer Trier, if his option is declined, an offer sheet the Knicks refuse to match. They will have the money to afford it, but it is all about the star-studded class of players on the open market, beginning July 1.

As it stands, the Knicks do not have enough open money to sign someone like Kemba Walker or Kevin Durant to a max contract. They own the cash to fill out the rest of the roster, and maybe someone on the next tier, à la Eric Bledsoe, unless he commands his own top-of-the-market deal at age 29.

If the Knicks pick up the option and still want to pursue the biggest names, they will need to shed another contract. The logical but most difficult option, Courtney Lee, will make over $12 million in 2019-20. Trading him without receiving future salary in return would take a miracle, unless the front office attaches a draft pick, which they ruled out earlier this year.

The Knicks can always take a lesser salary for 2019-20 and still have enough for Walker, but sit out of the Durant sweepstakes.

Alternatively, the Knicks can buyout Lee and let him join a contender. Easier said than done, too, unless he’s desperate enough to leave this rebuilding situation sooner than later.

This pushes the Knicks to the ballpark of $40 million available for free agency. Walker is more than viable, with money to spare, and Durant becomes realistic.

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Trier’s deal sets speculation in motion for what the New York Knicks eventually do. They have options, all of which provide downsides and risk, but they at least locked up a player with one of the NBA’s most surprising stories of the season who could become a long-term piece.