As the dust continues to settle from last week’s massive trade that saw the New York Knicks send Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, one of the players sent to the Big Apple in that deal might not be calling Madison Square Garden home for too long.
Veteran guard Wesley Matthews was part of the Knicks’ three-player return that also included Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan. In the final year of a four-year, $70 million contract, his and Jordan’s inclusion was nothing more than a salary dump for Dallas, which will help enable the Knicks to free up even more cap space for this summer.
Once Matthews, Jordan, and others like Enes Kanter’s contracts are off the books, the Knicks are expected to have approximately $71 million in cap space to make serious runs at big-time free agents like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, or Kawhi Leonard.
Granted, the Knicks could offer Jordan a $5 million room exception to come back for a season seeing as Kanter’s impending departure will leave the team without a center.
Matthews though is not expected to be a member of the Knicks for much longer as he is already garnering interest on the market. It just remains to be seen how he will leave New York.
Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Sunday night that Matthews could be traded before the NBA’s Feb. 7 deadline. Should the Knicks not find a partner, a buyout is also on the table, according to the New York Times’ Marc Stein.
Regardless, there have been a number of teams with reported interest, including the Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, and Toronto Raptors.
Shipping Matthews will help free up some space in a jammed backcourt. While Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee were traded in the Porzingis deal, first-year head coach David Fizdale still has to split playing time between Emmanuel Mudiay, Frank Ntilikina, Smith, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and now Matthews.
A trade will obviously give the Knicks something back in return, even if its something as minor as a second-round draft pick that will help build general manager Scott Perry’s future assets. The deal for Porzingis all but guarantees new York will hold onto their first-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, which could very well become the No. 1 overall selection thanks to their league-worst 10-42 record.
Adding big free-agent pieces like Durant or Irving would immediately make the Knicks more of a contender while accruing future assets will help develop the talent around him to ensure sustained success.
As for the 32-year-old Matthews, he will provide a contending team with an experienced talent off the bench. Over 10 NBA seasons, he is averaging 13.8 points per game and a career three-point shooting mark of 38.4-percent.