With the New York Knicks receiving inquiries on Tim Hardaway Jr., which destinations make sense for him ahead of the trade deadline?
The 2019 NBA Trade Deadline is two weeks away, with the New York Knicks as a candidate to be active before the clock strikes. Teams have inquired on their players, making transactions a possibility before Feb. 7.
Hardaway makes $17.32 million in 2018-19, $18.15 million in 2019-20 and $18.97 million in 2020-21 on a player option. This contract length may complicate any deal he’s part of, but that doesn’t create an impossible situation for a suitor to take him back.
Before the trade deadline, which five teams have the means to acquire Hardaway? Let’s take a look:
5. San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have surged since December, with LaMarcus Aldridge finding his groove, DeMar DeRozan playing productively in one of his best seasons and rising play from Bryn Forbes and Derrick White as two of their youngest players.
Are the Spurs a championship-caliber team, though? In a crowded Western Conference, it’s up for debate, and even with a full salary cap, they have the flexibility to make a move due to Pau Gasol‘s contract.
Gasol still has name value, but age (38) is catching up to him in 2018-19. With injuries, declining minutes by the year and a smaller role on this potentially 50-win team, his NBA run nears its end.
There’s not much value on the court. Contractually is a different story, since the Spanish big man makes $16 million in 2018-19 and has just $6.7 million guaranteed in 2019-20.
The Spurs can take Hardaway’s salary seamlessly by sending Gasol’s money back. New York can either buy him out or let that contract sit, before waiving him in the offseason. That still opens $9.3 million on the cap, which is roughly enough to present a max contract to Kevin Durant.
For Hardaway in San Antonio, he provides a veteran scoring presence off the bench, where he’s better suited as a volume scorer. Maybe head coach Gregg Popovich taps into his strengths, something he did with other players.
However, the Spurs have Forbes and White developing. DeRozan is coming along well, too. Plus, Hardaway removes any cap flexibility for 2019-20 and even 2020-21, given his player option for the latter. That likely stops them from re-signing Rudy Gay this summer and complicates other moves.
Plus, for the Knicks, can they make this move without sending a draft asset to San Antonio?