One of his biggest supporters — former team president Phil Jackson — is long gone. Now Noah’s return means the Knicks have one player too many and will have to make a move by 5 p.m. Sunday. According to a source, Kuzminskas will be the roster move, although it was unclear whether he will be traded or waived. “I think a lot of things happened this summer, you know, a lot of things changed,” Kuzminskas said. “And it’s obvious that last year’s team wasn’t that good, so you’ve got to change something . . . [And when] a person like [Jackson] is a fan of yours, it’s awesome, but you know, like I said, I was happy when he was here last year. He gave me a lot of advice. Just seeing him last year, the practices, it gives extra motivation. This year, he’s gone. This year we have other guys who are great too in our front office.”
Mindaugas Kuzminskas says he’ll have “a sleepless’’ night as he awaits the Knicks’ decision on who goes or stays. If the Knicks can’t make a trade, say getting a late first-rounder for backup center Kyle O’Quinn, the two likely candidates to be waived Sunday to make room for Joakim Noah’s return from drug suspension is either banished point guard Ramon Sessions or the exiled Kuzminskas.
Kuzminskas and Sessions are each in the final year of their deals. The 3-point specialist who starred in the European Championships for Lithuania is in the last of his two-year deal, paying him $3.8 million. Sessions signed just a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum of $2.1 million. An outside candidate to be removed is Michael Beasley, who has yet to shine, outplayed by Doug McDermott. He’s also on a one-year veteran’s minimum deal.
Luol Deng wants out of Los Angeles, but the Lakers are unlikely to offer a buyout and a team source described the trade market for Deng as “non-existent currently.” One year after signing a four-year, $72 million contract to join the Lakers, the veteran forward told ESPN that he and his agent have discussed a buyout with the Lakers, as well as trade
It is a vastly different role than the one he said he envisioned coming into his 14th NBA season, and an even bigger departure from what he anticipated when he originally signed with the Lakers in 2016. “I knew we were going to develop,” Deng said, “but one thing that I knew for sure was I was going to be part of it. And it wasn’t (just) ‘part of it’ by talking. What I was told and what I wanted to be was to play and help on and off the court. Not just off the court.”
A buyout is only likely if Deng is willing to renegotiate his contract for less than the $18 million per year he is owed through 2020. “I’m not going to sit here and say I want this and I want that,” Deng said. “That’s nobody’s business. I think for me just what’s the best thing that’s going happen for both sides, whether it’s a trade that’s going to happen, we’ll see. “If it’s a buyout then that’s what it is. I’m not here to say I favor this and I favor that.”