Knicks trading for Tyrus Thomas?

According to Adrian Wojnarowski

Several sources believe the Bulls are agreeable to a package of Thomas and Jerome James(notes) for Knicks forward Al Harrington(notes). Thus far, Walsh has resisted parting with Harrington, but discussions are still active and the teams have explored different combinations in recent days that would ultimately deliver Thomas to the Knicks.

Intuitively, this deal makes some sense. The Bulls are going to have to shed some salary in order to have enough cap space to offer a max contract to someone like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh, and Thomas’s name is the one that most often comes up since he’s nearing the end of his rookie contract. The Bulls would need to give up their rights to Thomas (or hope that John Salmons exercises an early termination on the final year of his contract) to have enough cap space to offer a max contract. Jerome James is only included to make the numbers work since both teams are over the cap.

For the Knicks, Thomas would be another piece to the puzzle, though he would eat into the team’s projected cap space. Right now, assuming a cap of $50 million, the Knicks would have roughly $23 million to spend, which is enough for one max contract, but not two. A trade for Thomas would reduce that cap space to $16-$17 million, so they would add a talented up-and-comer (who looks to be a perfect fit at power forward in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system) and still be able to sign LeBron or Wade (or some other big-name free agent). All at the expense of Al Harrington, whom the Knicks aren’t going to re-sign anyway.

Another angle on this deal is that the Knicks are essentially assisting the Bulls in becoming a competitor for LeBron and Wade next summer. However, the Bulls could simply hold onto Thomas and let him become a free agent next summer, so the upside for the Knicks is that they get the rights to Thomas knowing that the Bulls are going to be a competitor anyway. By trading for Harrington, the Bulls’ prospects for this season would improve. So since they’re probably going to lose Thomas anyway, they might as well improve in the short-term.

One the Knicks have to consider is the chances that they can move either Eddy Curry or Jared Jeffries. If they’re able to unload one of those players for expiring salary, they would have enough cap space to offer two max contracts next summer, so LeBron/Bosh or LeBron/Amare suddenly becomes a possibility. The likelihood of the Knicks moving either player seems slim, unless they are willing to give up David Lee or Danilo Gallinari in the deal.

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