Do you think RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Mitchell Robinsonetc. can help you take a step forward? Are you willing to bet on the internal improvement of the young players, and a whole year of Josh HartCan you make it past the second round?
Or do you trade some of the young players and draft picks for an established star? There could be more big names on the trade market this season. Karl-Anthony Towns, Damian Lillard, Zion Williamson, Joel Embiid, Jaylen Brownetc.
Starting Friday, you can include up to eight first-round picks in a trade. So you have the working capital to make a competitive offer. And your young players — Barrett, Grimes, Quickley, Robinson — have improved their trade value since last summer. It gives you the opportunity to put together a compelling trade package for a top player.
With that in mind, we’ll look at the details of potential trades for top players over the next two weeks. We started with Cities, Williamson and Bradley Beal (who appears to be headed to the Phoenix Suns) and we’ll look at Embiid, Lillard and others.
Today, we break down the math, paths and impact of a Brown trade to the Knicks:
What do the Knicks have to give up?
Brown will make $32 million next year. The Knicks would have to shell out at least $25 million to meet the league’s trade rules. They can do this in a number of ways (Our scenarios include the assumption that New York picks up Miles McBride‘s team option, which will happen on June 29 if McBride is not traded).
If the package to Boston includes Evan Fournier, New York would have to post an additional $8 million in the deal. A packet of Fournier, Toppin, Jericho Sims and multiple first-round picks would work. This would allow Boston to shed salary in 2023-24 and in 2024-25 when Fournier’s contract expires. If the Celtics want Barrett, the Knicks would send out a package of Barrett, Quickley and draft compensation.
Also worth noting in any Knicks trade conversation: Grimes’ salary for 2023-24 is $2.4 million. I assume New York would do everything it could to keep Grimes (and Quickley) out of a deal. I also assume that any team that makes a significant deal with New York will include Grimes and/or Quickley in the deal. From a salary perspective, it’s easy to include Grimes’ $2.4 million in a package that sends out $25 million.
Of course, the Knicks can send more than $25 million in a trade for Brown. But we’ll assume Boston wants to take back less salary to improve its flexibility and avoid any kind of penalty in the new collective bargaining agreement.
**We are not commenting on the wisdom of trading these players for Brown; we just lay out the math involved in making the subject work.
Why should he be traded?
Brown was named to an All-NBA team this season. That makes him eligible for a “supermax” extension this offseason. For Brown, the extension would be worth $290 million over five years. Jayson Tatum will also be eligible for a supermax extension next summer. His extension will be worth $318 million in total. So Boston must choose between paying $600 million to Brown and Tatum or breaking up the duo.
The Celtics have had significant success in the Brown-Tatum era. They’ve been to three Eastern Conference Finals and one NBA Finals (The Celtics also reached the Conference Finals in Brown’s rookie season, a year before they signed Tatum).
But Marcus Smart trade is a strong signal from management that the status quo was not working. Does this mean Boston wants to break up the Brown and Tatum pairing?
If I had to guess, my answer would be no.
The most likely scenario is that Brown signs the supermax extension this summer. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes in his essential offseason guide, 11 of the 12 players who were offered the supermax have signed it. If things go sideways and Brown or the Celtics want to change course in the future, it should be easy for Boston to trade Brown (*Brown would not be eligible to be traded through the 2023-24 season if he signs the supermax extension) .
If Brown bucks the trend and decides to decline the supermax expansion, it would set off alarms in Boston. It would be clear that Brown does not want to be in Boston. So the Celtics would presumably seek the best trade offer for Brown and move on.
Could the Knicks still add players after a Brown trade?
Yes. Depending on the details of the trade and any subsequent moves, the Knicks would have access to one of the mid-level exceptions following a Brown trade. So they would have a resource to add other free agents. But they may be disabled in the future. If the Knicks traded for Brown, you’d assume they’d sign him to another long-term contract. With Brown on the roster along with other high-paid players, the Knicks could be in a financial bind. The new CBA has penalty rules in place for teams that spend above a certain limit, especially as we get to the 2024-25 season.
Just food for thought as you consider what the Knicks should — or shouldn’t — do in the offseason.