Knicks dump Kemba Walker to Pistons to open cap space

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The New York Knicks have shed Kemba Walker’s salary to open up cap space for a potential run at Dallas Mavericks’ unrestricted free agent Jalen Brunson.

In a shrewd three-team trade, the Knicks first acquired No. 13 pick Jalen Duren from Charlotte for a future first-round pick and four second-round picks.



Then the Knicks attached Duren to Walker in a package sent to the Detroit Pistons for the Milwaukee Bucks’ top-4 protected 2025 first-round pick.

The Pistons will likely absorb Walker’s $9.1 million salary next season using part of the $21 million trade exception they created from the Jerami Grant trade. Walker is expected to negotiate a buyout from Detroit.

The Knicks gave up one of the conditional first-round picks — Denver Nuggets’ top-14 protected — they acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder for their No. 11 pick, which turned out to be Ousmane Dieng of New Zealand.

On top of the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick, the Knicks also received Washington Wizards and Pistons’ 2023 first-round picks. Both picks are top-18 protected.

Overall, the Knicks traded their No. 11 pick, Kemba Walker and four second-round picks in exchange for three conditional first-round selections and some salary cap space.

As pointed out by ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks, the salary dump move will keep the Knicks at a $104 million guaranteed salary, $18 million below the expected $122 million salary cap for next season.

The Knicks are not done shaving guaranteed salaries as they are reportedly also looking to trade Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to open up more cap space.

Brunson is expected to command $20-25 million annually in the open market.

In the second round, the Knicks selected Trevor Keels out of Duke with the 42nd pick. A five-star recruit out of high school, the 6-foot-4 Keels averaged averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a freshman for the Blue Devils.

Keels is a long shot to crack the rotation and may see more time with the Westchester Knicks to develop his game.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo