Days after Leon Rose lauded his trove of future first-round picks, the Knicks team president didn’t use them to outbid the Hawks for Dejounte Murray.
The Knicks expressed interest in acquiring the Spurs All-Star guard before he was dealt to the Hawks for a haul: three first-round picks, including two unprotected, along with a pick swap and Danilo Gallinari’s expiring contract to match Murray’s salary.
Although the Knicks don’t have enticing expiring contracts, they could’ve absorbed Murray into their cap space and used many of their 11 first round picks in the next seven years to pull off a trade.
But they’ve also earmarked the space for a run at Mavs point guard Jalen Brunson, who is expected to sign with the Knicks but is also taking free-agent meetings with Dallas and the Heat, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The Knicks explored forming a backcourt with Brunson and Murray, 25, who was an All-Star last season and a triple-double threat who averaged 21.1 points, 9.2 assists and 8.3 rebounds.
The Spurs are gearing for a rebuild as Gregg Popovich’s career winds down and Murray, who has two years remaining on a team-friendly deal, represented their best asset.
The Knicks’ expected signing of Brunson brings concerns about pairing him with shooting guard Evan Fournier, given their defensive deficiencies.
Murray, on the other hand, is a former All-Defense selection and elite at guarding the perimeter. He’s also the primary ballhandler in San Antonio, which presented a potential conundrum in New York because that’s the role Brunson desires.
The Knicks cleared roughly $30 million in cap space over the last week by agreeing to trade Kemba Walker, Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Pistons. That money is expected to go to Brunson but, in the process of trading their 11th overall pick, the Knicks picked up three heavily protected future first rounders.
Those are now assets for a trade, although not for Murray.
“We have the ability to be active in free agency, as well as in the trade market,” Rose said in a statement issued by the team after the draft. “Our focus will remain to be strategic and thoughtful in our team building, doing it the right way, while feeding off of the momentum from the end of last season and prioritizing our player development program.”
The Knicks finished a disappointing 11th in the Eastern Conference and Rose hasn’t addressed the media outside of MSG network since last September.