New York Knicks wing Josh Hart is expected to decline the $13 million player option in his contract for the 2023-24 NBA season, becoming an unrestricted free agent. Hart is also expected to re-sign with the Knicks in the off-season, given his fit with the team. The Portland Trail Blazers traded the 28-year-old to New York at the NBA Trade Deadline in a four-team deal, receiving forward Cam Reddish, guard Ryan Arcidiacano, and a conditional first-round pick from the Knicks, plus guard Matisse Thybulle from the Philadelphia 76ers in the deal.
Portland traded Hart, at the time clearly the best player in the exchange, for this precise reason. They anticipated he would not accept the final year of his offer and would want a more expensive, longer-term deal. With the team hovering around .500, Hart not producing at the three-point arc, and expensive paydays ahead for players they valued more, trading Hart at a discount made sense for Portland.
Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Iab Begley of SNY discussed the matter on the HoopsHype podcast, speculating that events would unfold as expected, and further that the Hart-Knicks union was strong enough to motivate both to make a deal this summer.
From the podcast transcript:
Scotto: If Tom Thibodeau was on Hinge and Bumble and he was filling out his love language section, he’d put Josh Hart… Any NBA executive or scout I’ve spoken to says the same thing about the pairing of Thibodeau and Hart on the Knicks, “It’s a perfect fit.” He’s been a Swiss army knife for the Knicks as a versatile role player. Hart has almost a $13 million player option this summer, which he’s expected to decline and become a free agent. But fear not Knicks fans, Hart loves the fit in New York, and the Knicks want to re-sign him in free agency… I don’t see him leaving. I see him getting either a three or four-year deal at some point once he becomes eligible.
Begley: I totally agree. I don’t think they’re making that trade, attaching a future first that’s protected and Cam Reddish to bring him here without a degree of confidence that he’ll re-sign. His first press conference that was on my mind, so I asked him, after being traded a few times, are you looking for more of a full-time home and if he saw this as a long-term potential spot. He spoke a lot about his connections to the team, Leon Rose, Jalen Brunson, and Julius Randle, and I believe he and his wife are starting a young family, so he talked about wanting to have some stability there.
Hart averaged 9.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in 33.4 minutes per game over 51 starts for the Trail Blazers this season. He shot 50.4% from the floor and 30.4% from the three-point arc in Portland.
In 10 games off the bench for the Knicks so far, Hart has averaged 11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 28.9 minutes per, shooting 61.5% from the field and 60.9% from distance.
The Knicks are 9-1 since trading for Hart.