The New York Knicks are finally beginning to make smart moves starting with the draft, and it continued with obtaining salary relief on Thursday.
Leon Rose and the Knicks are trending in the right direction after many years of dysfunction inside Madison Square Garden. They were fortunate for Player of the Year, Obi Toppin, to fall to them at #8 and then picked a player full of upside in Immanuel Quickley from Kentucky.
New York’s front office announced they have waived Taj Gibson ($9.45 million) along with Elfrid Payton ($8 million) in addition to declining Bobby Portis‘ $15.75 million team option, making him a free agent.
These moves account for $40 million in salary relief, which allows the Knicks to now use that freed up money to bring in players of their liking.
The new regime likely came into power with the realization that Gibson, Payton, and Portis were not good contracts and focused on building talent through the draft to add to a young core of players headlined by R.J. Barrett.
How the Money Works
The newly acquired payroll flexibility makes a trade for an All-Star type player like Russell Westbrook more feasible. There have been reports that have noted that the current Houston Rockets’ star wants out because he wants the ball back in his hands more and knows the Rockets aren’t a championship-caliber team.
Westbrook is due to make $41.3 million in the 2020-2021 season, so New York’s payroll would only increase just north of $1 million if they took on Westbrook’s entire contract.
The Knicks are a viable destination for Westbrook in a possible trade, so it has led to speculation of the team’s willingness to make a trade. One of the big questions was if they had enough cap space to make room for him.
Due to Thursday’s moves, now Westbrook’s financial fit makes more sense.
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