The Clippers and Knicks have engaged in “exploratory” discussions about a possible trade involving center Nerlens Noel, league sources Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
The Knicks are attempting to clear the cap room necessary to make a serious run at free agent point guard Jalen Brunson and have a surplus of future draft picks to offer a team willing to take on Noel’s contract, which will pay him $9.24MM in 2022/23. Moving Noel would increase their projected cap room to approximately $25MM.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have a trade exception big enough to take on Noel’s contract without sending out any salary and may view him as a solid rotation option at center, especially if free agent big man Isaiah Hartenstein doesn’t remain in Los Angeles.
The Clippers already project to be a taxpayer and would increase their luxury tax bill exponentially by adding another $9MM+ contract to their books, but Steve Ballmer is one of the richest owners in sports, so that may not be a pressing concern. The opportunity to help an Eastern Conference club pry away a key free agent from a Western rival may also provide some extra incentive as the Clippers mull a potential deal.
Here’s more from Scotto on free agency and the trade market:
- Four NBA executives who spoke to Scotto believe that Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons could sign a contract in the four-year, $80MM range, perhaps with incentives that could further increase its value.
- Based on conversations with six league executives, Scotto writes that Warriors center Kevon Looney could command upwards of $9MM per year as a free agent this summer, while guard Gary Payton II could earn $6-7MM annually. Looney is reportedly considered likely to re-sign with Golden State.
- On draft night, the Pistons landed center Jalen Duren with the No. 13 pick after agreeing to a deal involving New York and Charlotte. If they hadn’t been able to reach an agreement for the No. 13 pick and Duren slipped to No. 14, the Pistons had discussed offering multiple picks, including a future first-rounder, to the Cavaliers, says Scotto. It’s unclear if Cleveland would’ve had any interest in such an offer.