Knicks trade Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to pave way for Jalen Brunson signing

New York Knicks (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
New York Knicks (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

It’s starting. The New York Knicks had been in trade talks surrounding Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel, and as of Tuesday evening, both players were traded to the Detroit Pistons. That sounds familiar, huh?

With less than 48 hours remaining until the start of free agency, New York made a move that most were expecting. You might not have guessed that both Burks and Noel would be traded together to Detroit, but it’s been known that the Knicks were going to clear more cap space to make a push for Jalen Brunson in free agency.

And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (who broke the news), New York has created $30 million in cap space to sign the 25-year-old guard to a max contract.

Knicks trade Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Pistons

Along with Burks and Noel, here’s what else New York sent to Detroit:

And just like Woj said, the Knicks are confident that they’re going to be the ones to sign Brunson on Thursday. If not, New York wouldn’t have been working to clear cap space since draft night.

It was initially believed that the Knicks were willing to sign Brunson to a four-year, $100 million extension, but according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, New York’s now willing to offer Brunson more than $25 million a year.

Per Woj and Tim MacMahon, here’s what the Dallas Mavericks are planning to offer Brunson:

"Sources said the Mavs are willing to give Brunson a five-year contract — which only Dallas can offer due to owning his Bird rights — that is comparable to the four-year, $85 million deal that guard Fred VanVleet signed with the Toronto Raptors in 2020."

The Mavericks can offer Brunson the most money, yes, but according to Fischer, the belief is that he’s “more likely than not” to sign with the Knicks. And remember, Brunson’s father was hired by New York as an assistant coach in recent weeks, he has a long-standing relationship with Leon Rose because of his father, and his agent is Rose’s son. It’s not difficult to connect those dots.

And parting ways with Burks and Noel is all simply part of the process. Fans didn’t get to see much of Noel this season, but he started in 41 games in 2020-21 when New York made the playoffs. Burks was around then, too, but fans will remember him more so for Tom Thibodeau forcing the wing to be the Knicks’ starting point guard. A classic Thibodeau move.

Thank you, Alec Burks. Thank you, Nerlens Noel. It’s now time to get ready to welcome Jalen Brunson to New York (if that’s what happens, of course).