Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks are on the move. The two have been traded to the Detroit Pistons along with two future second-round picks and cash.
The Knicks clear $19 million in cap space with the move and appear to be opening space to make a run at soon-to-be free agent guard Jalen Brunson, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks.
The move should come as no surprise after ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on Jan. 27 that the Knicks were willing to trade some of their veteran players, such as Burks, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
Walker was traded to the Pistons on draft night, but he is expected to negotiate a buyout, according to Wojnarowski.
Burks joined the Knicks ahead of the 2020-21 campaign on a one-year deal. The team then re-signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
The 30-year-old had a solid first season in New York, averaging 12.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 42.0 percent from the floor and 41.5 percent from deep. However, his shooting numbers took a dip during the 2021-22 campaign. He averaged 11.7 points on 39.1 shooting from the floor and 40.4 percent shooting from deep in 81 games.
Burks was in-and-out of the starting lineup last season, but he mainly played off the bench when the Knicks were fully healthy.
The Utah Jazz selected the Colorado product with the 12th overall pick in 2011. He spent seven-and-a-half seasons with the franchise, and he has bounced around the league since then.
Utah traded Burks to the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2018-19 season, and the team then flipped him to the Sacramento Kings shortly after. Burks also spent time with two franchises during the 2019-20 season: the Golden State Warriors and Philadelphia 76ers.
Adding Burks gives the Pistons even more depth entering the 2022-23 season.
Burks should serve as a backup to Cade Cunningham and joins a point guard group that also includes Cory Joseph and Killian Hayes.
As for Noel, he had spent the last two seasons in New York, mainly playing off the bench. During the 2021-22 season, he averaged 3.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks in 25 games while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor.
The Charlotte Hornets selected Noel with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft. However, he never played a game for the franchise and made his debut during the 2014-15 season as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 28-year-old has also played for the Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder in his eight-year career. He has a $9.2 million cap hit for the 2022-23 season and has a club option for the 2023-24 campaign.
Noel, a center, will also play off the bench in Detroit, joining a group of big men that includes starter Isaiah Stewart, Kelly Olynyk and 2022 first-round pick Jalen Duren.
The Knicks still have a lot to figure out despite moving Burks and Noel to the Pistons. The team finished the 2021-22 season with a 37-45 record, 11th place in the Eastern Conference.