Born, bred and college-educated in Queens, Moe Harkless has firm roots in Knicks territory, an upward-trending NBA career and is now part of the never-ending Carmelo Anthony trade cycle. Still, as the Trail Blazers forward explained to the Daily News on Saturday, he doesn’t concern himself with the persistent rumors that he’s included in trade proposals to the Knicks. There’s no benefit. “It doesn’t do anything for me to get involved with that,” he said. “If it happens, it happens.”
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The improvement is also why he’s been part of trade proposals involving Carmelo Anthony, according to sources, both in straight swap talks and three-team negotiations where Anthony would end up in Houston. In both instances, Harkless goes to New York.
“(Scott Perry and I) had a really good relationship. We still have a good relationship. We actually spoke not too long ago. We talk all the time,” Harkless said. “He’s a real down-to-Earth guy, a real dude. He doesn’t really sugar coat stuff. So I think that’s why players take a liking to him.”
As evidenced by their recent — and ongoing — trade discussions with the Portland Trail Blazers, members of the Knicks’ front office are seeking to acquire an additional draft pick. One source described talks between the Knicks and Blazers as “fluid,” with several different proposals — as is the case with most trade discussions. One scenario discussed involved the Knicks taking back a player — and Maurice Harkless’ name was among those that came up.
The Blazers have just shy of $133 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for the 2017-18 season. That puts the Blazers about $11 million over the tax threshold for next season, bringing a tax bill of roughly $20 million before filling out the final three roster spots. Evan Turner ($17.1 million due next season) and Allen Crabbe ($19.3 million) could potentially be included in a trade as well as Meyers Leonard ($9.9 million) and Moe Harkless ($9.7 million).
It remains to be seen whether Portland proves to be as active in the trade market as many league observers expected coming into the season, but here’s a pertinent bookkeeping note: Allen Crabbe, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard all finally become eligible to be traded Sunday after the big new deals all three signed over the summer.
The trade restrictions for Turner and Ezeli expire Dec. 15, and the restrictions for Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless will not be lifted until Jan. 15. Crabbe also would need to approve of any trade for one year because the Trail Blazers matched the Nets’ offer sheet for him this past summer.
The Blazers have an aggressive front office and more wings (Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Moe Harkless) and bigs (Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard and Festus Ezeli) than they need. So keep an eye on them. The suspicion among numerous league observers is that the Blazers’ non-stop spending this past offseason was asset collection as much as anything. Scan through all those names again and it’s clear Portland has no shortage of options to thrust itself into all kinds of trade talks as GM Neil Olshey continues to shape the roster around backcourt bedrocks Lillard and C.J. McCollum.
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December 11, 2017 | 5:24 am EST Update
However, during an appearance on Spectrum Sportsnet’s “Connected With…,” Johnson explained there shouldn’t be an expectation that the Lakers will use their entire salary cap space just because they have it. They want to sign the right players, not just any players: “I feel really good about it. Now, we have cap space for probably two max guys, but that’s not to say we’ll use both of them. We want to if we can, but we have a Plan A and we have Plan B. Say we only get one of those guys, then we’ll make a decision on not to use the cap space. We can do that and save it for the class that’s coming the next year. We’re not going to give money away just because we have the cap space. I’m not about that. If the guy can’t really take our team to another level, and we see what Kyrie Irving has done for the Boston Celtics. Put him with that young talent the Celtics have, and they’ve taken off. We feel the same thing can happen for the Lakers. If we get the right free agent, that guy can take our young talent to a whole ‘nother level.”
Enes Kanter showed up for the Knicks game with the Hawks on Sunday on crutches. So naturally, he started. “If you’re going to make the playoffs, you’re going to make some sacrifices,” said Kanter, who was feeling the effects of getting kneed in the hip Saturday in Chicago — an injury that left him on crutches for two days. “I was in pain but [the doctors] just literally said, ‘Hey, if you want to play, we’re not going to say don’t play.’ “They just say, ‘OK, it’s your decision.’ ”
Steve Popper: Some unsolicited teammates on Enes Kanter: Jarrett Jack: He’s the first guy by the way I’ve ever seen come to a game on crutches, still start the game and he’s about to leave on crutches. I’ve never seen that before in my 13 years in the league.
Jon Krawczynski: Jimmy Butler gives a soliloquy on the importance of defense after every game. His latest: