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The New York Knicks are putting their leading scorer on the trading block. Tim Hardaway Jr. has been made available in trade discussions, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.
In an effort to shed salary for this summer’s free agency period, the Knicks are shopping Hardaway Jr. and veteran Courtney Lee, Stein reports.
The Knicks have made Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee available via trade in advance of the N.B.A.’s Feb. 7 trade deadline, according to three people familiar with the team’s stance. The team’s motivation in both cases is largely financial, according to the people, who were not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Finding a trade before the deadline to shed either Hardaway’s or Lee’s contract without taking salary back that extends beyond this season would ensure that the Knicks have the requisite salary-cap space in July to pursue top-tier free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker.
As Stein notes, the Knicks are looking to rid themselves from Hardaway Jr.’s contract—which pays him $18.2 million this season with a $19 million player option for 2019-20 that he is expected to opt into. They also want to unload Lee's contract, which earns him $12.8 million annually through 2020.
Hardaway Jr. is averaging 19.6 points per contest. Despite his defensive deficiencies, he is an attractive option to contenders.
Lee could be used as a bench role for a team in the playoff hunt, though the Knicks will be challenged to find a suitor interested in the veteran’s services.
Stein’s report comes a day after Enes Kanter demanded a trade from the Knicks following his benching. New York will look to move Kanter, but a buyout remains a possibility.
The Knicks (10-36) are in complete disarray and the front office’s sole goal is to offload as many contracts as possible before the trading deadline to create ample space for the impending free-agent class. This will allow them to pursue the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker this summer.