Like his free agency, Knicks president Leon Rose played it conservatively at his first trade deadline Thursday with one very minor trade.
While Eastern competitors Miami, Boston and Chicago beefed up, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau will look to battle Thursday versus the Wizards and beyond with the same guys he has unless the Knicks are proactive in the buyout market.
Center Andre Drummond heads the list as he works out a buyout with Cleveland after the Cavaliers couldn’t find a deal at Thursday’s trade deadline.
After trading Austin Rivers and Ignas Brazdeikis, the Knicks still have more than $14 million in cap space and a whopping $60 million in summer space.
As The Post reported entering the deadline, Rose intends to make his splash this summer.
If they don’t sign a player via buyout, the cap-room money is split among the players on the Knicks roster as a bonus to get to the NBA’s minimum payroll.
In addition, the Knicks go into draft night with that cap space to potentially make a trade easier while most teams are over the cap
The Knicks have been back and forth on Drummond as a fit, but he’s durable, rebounds and scores at the center position despite analytic mavens scoffing at his big numbers
Drummond is from Mount Vernon, so the Knicks have been on his radar despite reports the Lakers and Nets are heavy frontrunners. The Knicks also have a financial edge over the Lakers and Nets in being able to offer well more than the minimum with a little guarantee for next season even.
Small forward Otto Porter, who was traded to Orlando and could be waived, would be a target, too.
At Thursday’s trade deadline, the Knicks gained a late 2021 second-round pick in their lone trade to make up for the second-rounder they lost to Detroit for Derrick Rose.
But the Knicks’ biggest win was point guard Lonzo Ball staying put in New Orleans instead of being traded to Chicago, which would have controlled his restricted free-agent future. The Bulls were engaged in serious talks with New Orleans.
As The Post reported, the Knicks weren’t keen on giving up significant assets for Ball if they felt it could sign him in the summer.
Some Knicks targets were dealt elsewhere as combo guard Victor Oladipo was moved to Miami, where he is rumored to wish to re-sign this summer. Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell was traded to Portland but the Knicks could be in play when he’s a free agent.
Other targets included Evan Fournier, traded to Boston, and JJ Redick, moved to Dallas.
For Oladipo, the Rockets obtained Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a 2022 draft-pick swap. The Knicks also had questions about his long-term health but GM Scott Perry still felt he could be a sharp upgrade. He no longer calls the shots.
One of the two marginal players the Knicks acquired from the Sixers in Thursday’s trade, French center Vincent Poirier and swingman Terrance Ferguson, will likely be waived pending their success on the buyout market.
The Knicks were wasting two 15-man roster spots in Rivers and Brazdeikis and the Knicks were able to trade them in that deal. Rivers and the Knicks agreed to find a new destination at the All-Star break and he’s been away from the team since then.