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Knicks still could be in market for talent

Nerlens Noel #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder

Nerlens Noel #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder grabs a rebound against P.J. Tucker #17 of the Houston Rockets during the third quarter in Game Four of the Western Conference First Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Aug. 24, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Noel agreed to a one-year deal with the Knicks. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/TNS) Credit: TNS/Kevin C. Cox

The Knicks sent out a flurry of news releases Wednesday, catching up with some of the already-reported moves — signing Nerlens Noel, making official a two-way contract for Jared Harper and filling out the coaching staff. The pre-holiday busy work helped prepare them for training camp next week.

But it was what wasn’t announced and not yet complete that remains a mystery for the Knicks.

While Leon Rose’s first series of personnel moves as team president has managed to maintain cap flexibility and avoided any troublesome deals, they also have done little to put together a roster that looks ready to compete this season.

The Knicks might not be done, though. The team remains approximately $18 million under the salary cap and also $8 million below the salary cap floor. While the Knicks don’t have to reach that floor until the end of the season, whether it is now or during the season, the front office hopes to turn that space into talent.

Rose and his staff already have avoided the asking price for Russell Westbrook, who has been made available in a trade by the Rockets. But along with unloading the three years and $133 million left on Westbrook’s contract, Houston has been seeking young talent back.

The Knicks didn’t bite on Chris Paul when the Oklahoma City Thunder moved him, again trying to avoid pricey long-term deals.

But that doesn’t mean they won’t bring in another contract. There still are plenty of opportunities out there.

To complete the sign-and-trade of Gordon Hayward with the Boston Celtics, the Charlotte Hornets need to get the remaining year at $27 million owed to Nic Batum off their books and have shopped for a third team to enter the deal and absorb that money. The Knicks and Thunder are among the teams that have the ability to swing a deal like that.

Other contracts that could be moved include Indiana’s Victor Oladipo and San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan will earn $27 million this season and Oladipo is due to make $21 million.

Notes & quotes: The Knicks are expected to complete a sign-and-trade deal with Houston to facilitate the addition of Austin Rivers . . . In addition to Darren Erman, who was added Tuesday, the Knicks made official the rest of coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff. They added long-time NBA guard Aaron Brooks as a two-way liaison, strength coach Richard Williams, advance scout and assistant coach Larry Greer and scouts Reggie Johnson and TJ Zanin. They also added assistant video coordinators Ike Azotam, Christopher Santo and Gabriel Snider. Brooks played for Thibodeau and was a client of Rose's when Rose was an agent.

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