Knicks Rumors: NY Exploring Ways to Use NBA-High $15 Million in Cap Space

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

FILE - In this March 2, 2020, file photo, New York Knicks president Leon Rose, center, takes a phone call during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets in New York. Rose didn't have much time to evaluate the Knicks after becoming team president in March. But with their season officially over, he can begin making changes after another losing season. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

No team has more salary-cap space than the New York Knicks, and they might be looking to capitalize ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

The Knicks are $15.1 million under the cap, per Spotrac, and ESPN's Zach Lowe reported the franchise is "investigating ways to use it now."

Lowe speculated New York could leverage its flexibility into a play for Houston Rockets star Victor Oladipo, who's making $21 million this season:

"Before the season, teams with some interest in Oladipo were taking a wait-and-see approach, league sources said. They wanted to watch him play before forking over real stuff for him in a trade. Nothing that has happened since should change that. If the Knicks can absorb his contract for one or two players they don't really need (Elfrid Payton and Kevin Knox II?) and one heavily protected first-round pick, should they do that? Maybe. I'm skeptical the Rockets are getting much better for Oladipo now."

The Knicks' cap space is only slightly less than Evan Fournier's $17.2 million salary. SNY's Ian Begley reported Tuesday that the Orlando Magic swingman was among the players the franchise has considered prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline.

If nothing else, New York can take on a bad contract while getting a nice asset in return. The incentive to do that is lower with the team sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference at 22-22, though.

In general, fans should probably have measured expectations about how the next two days will unfold.

While not ruling out a trade, Begley reported teams are coming to believe the Knicks "aren't open to giving up significant assets in a trade for a player at the top of the trade market like [Oladipo]."

New York is already in a good position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13, so improving the roster with a short-term upgrade makes sense.

At the same time, the front office wants to avoid making the shortsighted moves that have come to be synonymous with the Knicks and that ultimately hamstring the franchise in the long term.