LAS VEGAS — The Knicks continued to put together their roster around the edges, agreeing on a three-year contract with Jericho Sims and getting close to announcing the completion of the trade sending Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to the Detroit Pistons.
While they are still waiting, likely until early next week, to announce the signings of Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein, converting Sims from a two-way contract to a full NBA deal puts the Knicks' roster at 14 players with two two-way contracts, leaving one spot open once the free-agent signings become official.
Sims is not expected to officially sign the contract until Saturday. When he does, the deal will give him two seasons as well as a team option and a partial guarantee for the third season. With Sims' conversion, the Knicks will have Feron Hunt and rookie Trevor Keels on two-way contracts.
Sims was one of the last players drafted in 2021, picked No. 58 overall in the second round and handed a two-way contract after starring at the University of Texas. He appeared in only 18 of the Knicks' first 59 games, didn’t start any and averaged just 6.5 minutes with 1.1 points and 1.5 rebounds.
But with COVID-19 and injuries opening up opportunities, he played in each of the final 23 games, started five of them and averaged 19.1 minutes, 3.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. Like the Knicks' regular starting center, Mitchell Robinson, Sims displayed athleticism, dunking nearly everything he touched near the rim and converting 72.2% of his field-goal attempts.
At 6-10, he is undersized for a center, but he has explosive leaping ability and is athletic enough to switch on defense, a must in today’s NBA. Still, his role is much the same as it was even as the Knicks have reshaped the roster.
Last season it was Robinson and Noel who were expected to garner the bulk of the minutes at center. Robinson played 72 games — earning a new four-year, $60 million contract — but Noel was injured much of the season, creating opportunities for Sims as well as Taj Gibson.
Noel was dealt in a salary cap-clearing move, but Hartenstein should step in as the primary backup to Robinson this season. Gibson has a non-guaranteed contract but is expected to remain with the team.
The Knicks have one roster spot open and still can do some salary-cap maneuvering, depending on whether they sign Brunson and Hartenstein with cap space or if they negotiate a sign-and-trade deal with Dallas. The Knicks and Pistons were expected to announce on Saturday the completion of the trade that sent Noel and Burks to Detroit to clear cap space for the Knicks.
Exactly how the Knicks arrange the Brunson signing, which is not expected to be announced until Sunday at the earliest, will dictate just how the rest of the roster will be configured. The Knicks can create more cap space by waiving Gibson, who has a non-guaranteed $5.2 million deal, and bringing him back on a veteran minimum contract.