July 18, 2024

The trade involving Mikal Bridges has been finalized, opening up new cap flexibility for the Knicks. Yesterday, the Knicks and Nets expanded their previously agreed-upon trade involving Bridges. Tomorrow, the Knicks will officially announce the deal, which brings the Villanova alum across the Brooklyn Bridge in a significant package.

For those not in the loop, the official trade details are as follows:

NYK Receives: Mikal Bridges, Keita Bates-Diop, 2026 MIL/DET/ORL 2nd (least favorable)

BKN Receives: Bojan Bogdanovic, Shake Milton (sign-and-trade), Mamadi Diakite, 2025 NYK 1st, 2025 MIL 1st, 2027 NYK 1st, 2028 NYK Swap Rights, 2029 NYK 1st, 2031 NYK 1st, 2025 BKN 2nd

This is a substantial deal. Speculation about an expansion to the trade had been rampant, with some Nets fans hoping for Deuce McBride to be included. However, the leverage lay with the Knicks, who ensured they wouldn’t be hard-capped at the first apron a week ago. Signing Shake Milton to a bench role proved beneficial.

Financially, the Knicks are sending out $24.2 million in salary while bringing back $25.9 million. According to Bobby Marks, Bates-Diop’s minimum salary does not count towards the apron, meaning the Knicks are actually sending out more than they’re receiving, thus lifting the hard cap. This could have larger implications later on.

Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks Update Trade Details in Moving Mikal Bridges

The Knicks also partially guaranteed Mamadi Diakite’s contract ($1.23 million of $2.3 million) to make the finances work.

In other news, the Knicks signed their top two picks, Pacôme Dadiet and Tyler Kolek, to rookie deals. Dadiet signed for just 80% of the rookie scale ($1.81 million), while Kolek signed a rare four-year deal using the second-round exception. Combined, they will make $3.9 million, bringing the total salary for 12 rostered players to $173.25 million. The first apron is at $178.1 million, and the Knicks still have the $5.2 million Taxpayer MLE at their disposal.

Filling Out the Roster: The best-case scenario for the Knicks is to maximize their assets. They have bird rights on Precious Achiuwa, meaning they can sign him and use their MLE on someone else. Assuming Achiuwa signs for $5.5 million, and another player is signed with the MLE ($5.2 million), the total would be about $184 million, just under $5 million shy of the second apron. This leaves one roster spot potentially reserved for a former Knick and Wildcat.

Free agency isn’t the only option. The Knicks have been linked to Walker Kessler of the Utah Jazz. However, due to the rule against aggregating minimum salaries, acquiring Kessler by sending Jericho Sims and Keita Bates-Diop wouldn’t work. A trade involving only one of them is possible but would cap them at the first apron.

Another option is a sign-and-trade involving Precious Achiuwa to Utah, allowing the Knicks to acquire a solid backup big and still use their $5.2 million MLE elsewhere.

Potential Roster: The likely team could be:

Brunson-Bridges-Anunoby-Randle-Robinson

McBride-DiVincenzo-Hart-Achiuwa-Sims

Kolek-Arcidiacono-Dadiet-Bates-Diop-Hukporti

2-way: McCullar, Toppin, TBD

If they trade for Walker Kessler, sending out Deuce McBride:

Brunson-Bridges-Anunoby-Randle-Robinson

Lowry-DiVincenzo-Hart-Achiu

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