The New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis for a package that included DeAndre Jordan, who may actually help them land Kevin Durant.
Brian Windhorst mentioned that New York plans to keep the two-time NBA rebounding leader, though many have expected Jordan to end up as a buyout candidate (via ESPN):
“One thing I’ll say about the Knicks: they’re making it look like they intend to keep DeAndre Jordan. You can extrapolate this out: [He] has a relationship with Kevin Durant. Although I don’t know how [the Knicks can retain the big man]. I mean, they can’t keep him at any real number.”
The Knicks can retain the 2017 NBA All-Star by bringing him back on a $27.47 million deal next season. That would drop their projected cap space from $74.6 million to $47.1 million.
It would mean that instead of having enough room for two max salaries this offseason, they would have the money to spend on just one. Instead of being able to sign both Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Knicks would only have the ability to sign just one or the other.
This changes, however, if they let him go and he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Perhaps, though this idea is definitely a long shot, Jordan would be willing to take a significant discount to play alongside his friend Durant.
Marc Stein is the most recent to float such a theory (via New York Times):
“It is widely expected that both players [Wes Matthews and Jordan] will seek contract buyouts from the Knicks if they are not traded again before the deadline so they can seek roster spots with playoff-bound teams for the remainder of the season. Yet it should be noted that Jordan is one of Durant’s closest friends, which might factor into where he wants to be in the months ahead.”
It is hard to imagine a scenario where the front office in New York would sacrifice the coveted cap space that Jordan would command.
But if they could somehow keep the former Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks center on the Knicks, it would be a big win for the organization. It would give them more time to let Mitchell Robinson develop, offering their recent second-round pick a mentor who has had longterm NBA success.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe has previously described Jordan as someone “a lot of people would like to play with” around the league. As a recruiting chip, he could potentially be a big-time help for New York.