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An analysis of the Knicks’ top contract decisions looming this offseason, including OG Anunoby and Jalen Brunson

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An analysis of the Knicks’ top contract decisions looming this offseason, including OG Anunoby and Jalen Brunson

After losing in the second round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, the Knicks’ offseason has arrived.

With the help of Yossi Gozlan, we’ll look at some of the future decisions for New York and the financial implications of those decisions…

OG ANUNOBY

Anunoby can sign a contract extension worth $117 million over four years on June 30 – the six-month anniversary of his trade with the Knicks. He has a player option for 2024-2025. He must decide on that player option by June 24 and can only extend if he uses the player option for next season.

You can probably take that option off the board for the Knicks, as Anunoby is highly unlikely to pick up his option for next season.

He will likely decline that player option and become a free agent. The Knicks can sign Anunoby to a max deal of five years and $245 million, as Gozlan explains in his excellent analysis here.

Gozlan uses recent deals for wings (Jerami Grant, Jayden McDaniels) as a reference for Anunoby’s next deal. He expects the Anunoby deal to open up the market for wings. I think it’s fair to expect Anunoby to get $35 million annually for his next contract.

If that number jumps out at you, consider that the NBA’s next TV rights deal will steadily increase the salary cap. “Due to a new television contract starting in 2025-26, teams expect the cap to increase 10 percent annually,” ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes in his excellent Knicks analysis here.

As previously reported, members of the Philadelphia 76ers have identified Anunoby as an offseason target. Paul George is also a target for Philadelphia. But if the Sixers can’t get George, I could see them making a big offer to Anunoby – if for no other reason than New York would have to double the money.

ISAIAH HARTENSTEIN

The Knicks have Hartenstein’s Early Bird rights. This could allow them to go over the salary cap to re-sign him. But it also limits their offer to a certain amount. In this case, the Knicks could offer Hartenstein a four-year contract worth $72.5 million.

Will Hartenstein get a larger offer elsewhere? The 76ers, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Hornets expect to have significant cap space this summer.

It’s worth noting that Orlando had significant interest in Hartenstein the last time he was a free agent. The Knicks, of course, won the bid for Hartenstein that summer, but Orlando was aggressive. I don’t know if the Magic will prioritize the center position in free agency.

Hartenstein is among a small group of free agent centers this summer (Jonas Valančiūnas, Nic Claxton). Bringing back Hartenstein was a priority for the Knicks. His new signing was a factor in their approach to the extension negotiations with the US Immanuel Quickley. So I assume the Knicks and Hartenstein agree on a deal. New York can talk to Hartenstein after the NBA Finals.

Gozlan predicts that the signing of Anunoby and Hartenstein will put New York under the luxury tax, possibly above the first platform.

This projection assumes the Knicks don’t come back Precious Achiuwa And Alec Burks. Re-signing these players could put the Knicks near or above the restrictive second platform (Gozlan explains these restrictions in his video here.)

JALEN BRUNSON RENEWAL

Brunson is under contract through 2024-2025. He has a player option for 2025-2026.

If he declines the player option in 2025-2026, he could sign a contract worth up to $270 million over five years. The contract runs until 2029-2030.

Brunson will also be eligible for an extension this summer starting July 13, Marks said. The extension could last four years and could amount to up to $156 million. Brunson would play through the 2028-2029 season. But from an agent’s perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to expand without flexibility in the form of a player option in the deal.

That said, Newsday reported that Brunson would be willing to sign an extension with the Knicks. If he were to do that, he would give the Knicks incredible financial flexibility in future seasons. If he were to sign an extension, it would be consistent with the way Brunson has done business with the Knicks thus far.

He agreed to an expiring contract in free agency in the summer of 2022, giving the Knicks more financial flexibility over the life of the deal. It would also give them more flexibility to add players to Brunson’s next contract. His possible extension starts at a lower amount because his contract is expiring.

So there’s reason to believe Brunson would at least be open to an extension. He has already signed a contract, which puts the Knicks in a better position to improve the roster.

If he were to sign an extension, it would be just one example of how Brunson gives the Knicks the best opportunity to add talent to their roster.

JULIUS RANDEL

Randle will be eligible for an extension this summer. It could take four years and cost as much as $181.5 million. He will be eligible for election on August 3. If history is any indication, he’ll be open to signing this summer. Remember, after the best season of his career, Randle decided to sign an extension with the Knicks rather than wait another year for free agency.

Will the Knicks extend Randle?

I assume they’ll want to extend him if he’s on the roster. As Gozlan notes, Randle’s contract is likely the one that would likely be used to facilitate a trade for a star. The Knicks can also use up to eight first-round picks in a deal (and seven second-rounders).

So if they were to pursue a top player via trade, Randle would likely be at the center of those trade talks. Do they have to? That’s a matter of opinion. I thought NBA champion Kevin Garnett shared an interesting perspective on the Knicks and Randle in his interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

When talking about transactions, it’s also worth noting that Bojan Bogdanovic‘s salary for 2024-2025 is $19 million. There is currently a $2 million guarantee. The Knicks have the option to waive Bogdanovic before June 26 without further financial penalties. If they keep him on the roster after June 26, his contract will be fully guaranteed.

He can clearly help the Knicks score off the bench next season, so the idea that they could keep him on the roster past June 26 isn’t far-fetched. But Bogdanovic’s deal would also be valuable in any trade talks.

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