Knicks’ Josh Hart opts into his player option, will return in 2023-24

Josh Hart Knicks
Josh Hart (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

One of the first big dominos to fall in the New York Knicks’ offseason finally has as Josh Hart reportedly opted into his $12.9 million player option for the 2023-24 season

The original deadline for Hart to make a decision had been Sunday night but he and the Knicks agreed to push the deadline to midnight on Thursday. 

The decision to opt-in means that Hart will be back on a one-year contract with the Knicks next season for $12.9 million. However, the Knicks can still extend him in August when he’s eligible and sign him to a four-year, $81.3 million deal. Opting in also gives Hart a six-month trade restriction, so he will essentially have a one-year no-trade clause, which was likely appealing to him. 

After coming to New York at the trade deadline, Hart averaged 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.4 steals in 25 games as the first option off of the bench. He also provided the team with elite offensive rebounding and perimeter defense, which were sorely lacking. 

Hart accepting his player option gives New York $8.5 million in luxury tax space; yet, the team can also non-guaranteed contracts for Isaiah Roby and DaQuan Jeffries without suffering any cap penalty, which would give the team $12.7 million in space. That’s just more than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which is now $12 million and allows New York to use that to sign another rotation player this offseason, which could very well be Hart’s Villanova teammate Donte DiVincenzo. 

However, as Jeremy Cohen of Knicks Film School pointed out, “There would be basically no room for the entire season, which is a no-go.” The Knicks would likely need to make another move to get rid of salary and a current rotation player.

That means trading away a player like Obi Toppin, who many thought the team would move before the NBA Draft, or Immanuel Quickley, who may be pricing himself out of New York, or even RJ Barrett, who could be moved in a big deal for a star player like Paul George or OG Anunoby. 

The next steps for New York are very much up in the air, but with Hart opting in, it seems increasingly likely that another rotation player from this past season will not be in a Knicks uniform next season. 

Who that is could be the next domino to fall. 

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Josh Hart and RJ Barrett Knicks
New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) and guard Trevor Keels react in the second half of Game 2 in the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals playoff series against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Knicks won 111-105. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)