Knicks’ free agency deals leave some flexibility for the future

Nerlens Noel, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burks

Nerlens Noel, Derrick Rose, and Alec Burks

Nearly all of the Knicks’ free agent contracts this summer contain a team option in the final season.

The contracts for Evan Fournier (four years), Derrick Rose (three years), Alec Burks (three years), Nerlens Noel (three years) and Taj Gibson (two years) all have a non-guaranteed year at the end of them.

This gives New York some flexibility toward the back end of the contracts listed above.

Fournier, Rose, Burks and Noel have team options in the final seasons of their deals. The second year of Gibson’s contract is non-guaranteed, as SNY first reported.

Kemba Walker’s two-year deal is fully guaranteed. He was the only player to get a fully guaranteed deal from New York this offseason.

Why does this matter?

It gives the Knicks the opportunity to clear some salary prior to the 2023 offseason. It also makes the contracts for the players listed above more attractive in trades.

One of the goals for the Knicks in the 2021 offseason was to maintain flexibility (unless a star player became available). The structure of their free agent contracts accomplished that goal.

But they also prioritized continuity.

By re-signing Noel, Burks, Gibson and Rose, the Knicks brought back most of the 2020-21 roster.

Obviously, they hope that continuity helps them build upon the success of last year. It’s a significant bet because they lost some flexibility in the summer of 2022.

But New York still has enough draft assets and team-friendly deals to be in the conversation if a star player seeks a trade.

That’s an issue for another time, though.

As things currently stand, New York has bet that roster continuity and internal development can help the club take the next step in ’21-’22.

As is always the case in New York, if it works out, the Knicks will be praised. If things go sideways, Leon Rose & Co. will be criticized.

But the way they’ve structured their free agent deals in the 2021 offseason gives them some flexibility moving forward.

Roster Crunch

The Knicks announced the signings of Dwayne Bacon and Aamir Simms on Thursday. They currently have 14 players signed to guaranteed contracts. Simms, Bacon, Luca Vildoza are on non-guaranteed deals. Jericho Sims is on a two-way contract.

New York can carry 20 players through training camp. The club will have to cut the roster to 17 players by opening night. They can have 15 players on traditional contracts and two players on two-way deals. So as things currently stand, they have one opening for a traditional contract and one opening for a two-way player.

As of earlier this week, there was no indication that free agent guard Frank Ntilikina was in New York’s 2021-22 plans.

The Knicks didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Ntilikina prior to free agency. He is an unrestricted free agent.


It seems like Chris Clemons is well on his way back from the Achilles tear he suffered last December.

A few weeks ago, Clemons was scrimmaging in the gym with some Hornets players and looked ‘strong’ according to one person who saw the scrimmages.

Clemmons, 23, is a free agent. The 5-9 guard tore his right Achilles in a preseason game last December. At the time, Clemons seemed slated for a regular role as John Wall’s backup in Houston.

With training camp less than a month away, it’s worth noting that several teams have been monitoring Clemons’ rehab progress.

The fact that he was scrimmaging with NBA players a few weeks ago seems to indicate that Clemons – who is known for his athleticism and scoring – has been cleared for contact for at least a month.


Jace Lipstein and his company, Grungy Gentleman, have collaborated with the NBA on t-shirts and shorts that feature the Knicks, Nets, Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Heat and Sixers.

“My vision for our NBA guy is rocking a luxury matching set paired with a vintage watch and clean trainers,” Lipstein said. “Shorts come down to fit, fabric and comfort. I obsessed over these three characteristics to create a pair of NBA shorts that customers will wear forever.”