The New York Knicks have more than enough cap space to acquire a bad contract with draft assets attached.
Striking out in free agency is realistic for the New York Knicks. While the 2019 offseason always had potential, the injury to Kevin Durant and the impending decisions for Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leonard and other star free agents to head elsewhere.
This could create an unsuccessful 2019-20 season, as in missing the playoffs again, but the Knicks can still walk away with a satisfying summer under different circumstances, maintaining a promising future. It stems from their $70-plus million in cap space.
The Knicks have the room to absorb other teams’ high salaries or bad contracts while acquiring draft assets for their trouble; likely a first-round pick or two, similar to the Atlanta Hawks taking Allen Crabbe from the Brooklyn Nets earlier in June.
This type of deal does not benefit the add-a-superstar expectations, but it builds towards a brighter, long-term future at Madison Square Garden. Who can the Knicks acquire with this cap space, though, while snagging a first-round pick?
Danilo Gallinari, Clippers ($22.6 million)
An interesting reunion over eight years after his departure, Danilo Gallinari is a logical trade candidate to absorb into the New York Knicks’ cap space. He will make $22.6 million in 2019-20, which does not even consume a third of the available money this summer.
The impact towards the 2019-20 team might not matter if his stint is short-lived, but Gallinari can add the outside scoring New York desperately needs. Plus, adding a veteran player with organizational familiarity helps.
The Los Angeles Clippers can free ample cap space by shipping Gallinari to the Knicks, helping their free-agency desires for Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant or another top player. The problem is they sit in a similar spot to New York, who would have to concede their offseason — or part of it — by working this deal with Steve Ballmer’s franchise.
If the Knicks are content enough to do this, working with the Clippers can work, especially if they are able to lure other talents on long-term deals to work with a superstar or multiple of them. Leonard was rumored to join the “other” Los Angeles team before his trade from the San Antonio Spurs.
Signing a star can make the Clippers willing to forfeit future draft compensation for the present. If they are willing to do this, the ball lies in the Knicks’ court.