New York Knicks reportedly never had any interest in trading for Russell Westbrook
New York had the future in mind over acquiring a star player
The Knicks had their sights instead on maintaining salary-cap flexibility for the future, in 2020 and 2021, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported. That flexibility would have been difficult to ensure had they taken on the four years and $170 million that remained on Westbrook's contract.
Westbrook found a home in Houston instead, after OKC traded their star for point guard Chris Paul and two first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, and the right to two first round pick swaps in 2021 and 2025.
Power forward Julius Randle was the only player the Knicks signed to a long-term deal at three years for $63 million, with their other six free agents signing deals of two years or less.
Marcus Morris was signed away from the Boston Celtics to the Knicks with a one-year, $15 million deal. Wayne Ellington ($16 million total) and Bobby Portis ($31 million total) have two-year deals with the second year as a team option.
The Knicks wanted to leave their options open for major moves in 2020 or 2021 and did so with how they handled free agency.
Westbrook joining the bunch would have limited future plans, despite giving them a big name player to compete with.
While Westbrook's experience and numbers could have landed the Knicks in playoff contention, his style of play and dominance could have halted the improvement of the younger squad. Players like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina will now be forced to take on a leadership role.
No. 0 is not NY bound and instead joins James Harden in Houston, looking to make a run of their own.
However, by handling free agency the way they did, the Knicks left the door open to making big signings in 2020 or 2021. If they will actually able to do that is the real question.
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