It wasn’t quite the haul that the Knicks expected when they planned how to spend the $70 million in cap space with which they entered the free-agent market, but they finished off their summer spending Tuesday with the announcement that they had completed deals with Marcus Morris and Reggie Bullock.
The two joined five other free-agent acquisitions -- Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Elfrid Payton and Wayne Ellington -- who will try to boost the fortunes of the Knicks, coming off a league-worst 17-65 record. The Knicks also added rookies RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis and picked up the team option on Damyean Dotson to complete the 15 roster spots.
They also tipped their cap space to the limit. The focus for the Knicks once they failed in the pursuit of stars was to limit the deals to short-term contracts, and all of them except Randle will have a team option for the second season. Randle has two guaranteed years and a third-year option.
That hardly sounds like the fantasy basketball summer that the Knicks hoped for, as they failed to even get a meeting with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard.
“With Reggie and Marcus we are adding two more versatile, hard-nosed and accomplished players to an already improved roster,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. “We value both players’ perimeter shooting ability and their strong presence on the court and in the locker room. We’re excited to have them in New York and are confident they will excel playing for this team under Coach [David] Fizdale.”
Instead, the Knicks added four players who are mainly power forwards -- Randle, Portis, Gibson and Morris. In Payton they acquired a point guard who will be on his fourth team in six seasons and who will try to challenge Dennis Smith Jr. for the starting position. Ellington and Bullock will compete for wing minutes with the two players the Knicks have taken with their lottery picks in the last two drafts, Kevin Knox and Barrett.
Bullock originally agreed to a two-year, $21 million deal, but settled for signing into the Knicks’ room exception, starting at $4.8 million with a team option for the second season. The Knicks balked at the original deal when an undisclosed health issue came up, and it is expected to cause Bullock to miss time this season. But it also conveniently created an opening for Morris to join the Knicks.
Morris had a deal in place with the Spurs for two years and $20 million, but backed out before signing it when the Knicks opened up the cap room to give him a one-year deal worth $14.8 million.