The Portland Trail Blazers have about three weeks to decide if they will opt in or not on Kevin Knox’s contract.
Knox, 24, was traded to the Blazers at this year’s trade deadline in the deal that sent Gary Payton II to the Golden State Warriors. In 21 appearances for the Blazers this season, Knox averaged 8.5 points per game. Knox has one year left on his contract, a team option worth $3 million.
John Hollinger from The Athletic made predictions for every NBA team option ahead of free agency and weighed the pros and cons for each scenario.
A perennial tease, Knox had enough interesting moments this season that I wouldn’t be shocked if Portland tried to bring him back, especially since he’ll only be 24 next season. However, the Blazers ... can’t really afford to have non-rotation players making more than the minimum because of their luxury-tax liability. It’s easier to imagine Knox scenarios for 2023-24 with him on a minimum deal after the Blazers decline his option; I doubt they’re risking a bidding war here.
Ultimately, Hollinger believes that the Blazers will decline Knox’s option. Knox is an enticing player to have on a cheap deal. At $3 million, the Blazers can afford it, but if the team wants to sign Jerami Grant, or someone else of equivalent money, those slightly-above-minimum contracts could turn Portland into a luxury-tax team.
The Blazers may decide to decline Knox’s option and sign him at a slightly cheaper deal. While Portland would risk him signing a deal elsewhere, the risk is worth the reward. If Knox returned to the Blazers next season, he would be strictly a depth piece, but having some familiarity with the system and team could be a benefit, and why Portland could pick up the option. That being said, for a player that will only be a fringe rotation player at best, declining the option is likely the wiser avenue to take.