Knicks rumors: Nerlens Noel to Clippers TPE? Alec Burks draws interest from Celtics

Alder Almo
alec burks, knicks

With two days left before Thursday’s start of free agency, the New York Knicks are racing against time to open up the much-needed salary cap room to pursue their top free-agent target, Jalen Brunson.

After dumping Kemba Walker’s $9.2 million salary to the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks currently have $13 million in cap room and will likely waive Taj Gibson’s $5.2 million non-guaranteed contract and trade Nerlens Noel or Alec Burks to officially join the Brunson’s sweepstakes.

In their bid to open up more cap room, they have reportedly explored trading backup center Noel to the Los Angeles Clippers, per Hoopshype’s Michael Scotto.

“Noel could fit into the Clippers’ $9.7 million trade exception previously generated by the Serge Ibaka trade. The Knicks have a surplus of draft pick compensation (22 picks total over the next seven years) to dangle,” Scotto wrote.

The Clippers are looking at Noel as an option to replace Isaiah Hartenstein. The Clippers could only re-sign Hartenstein using their $6.4 million taxpayer mid-level exception. But they are now going to use that to sign John Wall after his buyout with the Houston Rockets.

Noel is reportedly generating interest too from the Toronto Raptors, who almost traded for him at the trade deadline, and the Brooklyn Nets pending Nic Claxton’s restricted free agency, per SNY’s Ian Begley. Noel could be their fallback option if Claxton gets more significant offers than the MLE. The oft-injured Knicks backup center is owed $9.24 million next season. He could fit in the Nets’ $11.3 million trade exception they generated from the James Harden trade.

The Knicks could open up roughly $25 million in cap space if they don’t take any salary back in a Noel deal. It might be enough to lure Brunson away from Dallas and re-sign Mitchell Robinson using his Bird rights.

Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics have a degree of interest in trading for Burks, per SNY. The Celtics can use part of their $17.1 million TPE they generated from the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade with the Knicks last summer.

It is unclear what kind of draft asset the Knicks will attach to Burks as he is still recovering from foot surgery, although there is optimism he will be available before the start of the training camp.

The Knicks’ salary cap space would shoot up to over $30 million if they trade Noel and Burks.

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