On Sunday’s “Trade Season” special, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe put together a hypothetical trade for the New York Knicks’ Marcus Morris.
With Dec. 15 having arrived, NBA teams can officially trade players signed in 2019 free agency. That includes all seven of the New York Knicks’ acquisitions, including Julius Randle, Wayne Ellington, and Elfrid Payton.
However, during Sunday’s “Trade Season” special on ESPN, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe analyzed New York’s most valuable trade piece before the February deadline: Marcus Morris.
Wojnarowski and Lowe laid out a hypothetical trade for Morris to the Los Angeles Clippers. With the veteran forward as the only piece leaving in this deal, how does a potential return package look for the Knicks, per ESPN’s NBA reporters? Let’s take a look:
Maurice Harkless has started 18 of 28 games for the Clippers, averaging just shy of 24 minutes per game. It’s a significant role on one of the NBA’s top teams, but his value comes defensively. He averages just 5.9 points per game and 1.7 3-point attempts per game, which, in the modern-day NBA, is not much.
Most importantly, for both sides, Harkless makes $11.1 million this season. That covers most of Morris’ $15 million salary, making it an easy fit for the Clippers to move.
The expiring salary also lets the Knicks clear cap space after this season. While there won’t be any superstars on the market, unless Anthony Davis shockingly chooses another team, they can maintain cap flexibility for trade, whether it’s for a top player or to absorb a bad contract.
From there, the Knicks can either keep Harkless for the rest of the season or buy him out, although the latter seems unlikely since he’s only 26 years old and may not see another eight-figure salary.
So Harkless isn’t a long-term piece in New York, unless the Queens product wants to stay with his hometown team in the 2020-21 season. Otherwise, he can consume minutes in the middle of coach Mike Miller‘s lineup for the rest of the year and leave in free agency next June.