Bojan Bogdanovic contract: Why Knicks forward could be important trade piece

The New York Knicks have a decision to make on Bojan Bogdanovic this month, and it could be telling of their future plans.

The Knicks must decide whether they want to guarantee Bogdanovic’s $19 million salary for the 2024-25 season by June 29. They can also mutually agree to push back the deadline (more on that later).

If the Knicks choose not to guarantee Bogdanovic’s contract, he’ll carry a $2 million cap hit for next season.

So, it seems likely that the Knicks would at least pick up Bogdanovic’s contract, rather than letting him leave in free agency and still having to pay $2 million.

Picking up Bogdanovic’s contract could be a sign that the Knicks just want to run it back. They acquired Bogdanovic and Alec Burks for third-year guard Quentin Grimes in a February trade with the Pistons. While Bogdanovic struggled for much of the regular season, he had a solid showing in three playoff games with the Knicks before a season-ending ankle injury. New York might want to see how Bogdanovic looks with a full training camp and have the luxury of bringing a sharpshooting forward off the bench.

However, keeping Bogdanovic could also signal that the Knicks have something in the works.

The Knicks are known to be shopping for another star to add to their roster.

Bogdanovic’s $19 million salary could be important for salary-matching in a trade. Not only could his salary help net another high-salaried player, but as an expiring contract, Bogdanovic actually figures to be an attractive trade chip. His salary could also help the Knicks avoid having to send out key pieces of their core in a deal.

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Put another way, if the Knicks did not pick up Bogdanovic’s option, but still made a big trade this summer, they’d have to send out players like Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Josh Hart, or Donte DiVincenzo just to match salaries.

Bogdanovic could be a luxury off the bench if he sticks around. He could also be a luxury for making a big trade this summer.

If the Knicks do guarantee Bogdanovic’s contract and re-sign OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein to new contracts, the Knicks will likely push into the luxury tax, which is projected to be $174 million next season. While Knicks owner James Dolan has shown a willingness to spend money for good teams (and bad ones!) there is nonetheless some risk involved: if a trade doesn’t occur, Bogdanovic could be a pricey luxury off the bench.

The Knicks and Bogdanovic could agree to push back his guarantee date, which would give the Knicks more time to figure out if they can cook up a trade for another star. However, such an agreement may not be all that beneficial to Bogdanovic. If the two sides agreed to push back the guarantee date, and the Knicks failed to find a deal, then declined Bogdanovic’s option to save money on their 2024-25 cap sheet, it could be a massive financial hit to Bogdanovic. The 35-year-old would hit free agency at a time when many teams’ cap space has been spent.

The coming weeks may be telling. The Knicks could pick up Bogdanovic, just because they want to retain a key piece off the bench. But guaranteeing his contract could also be a sign that they’ve got a trade in the works.

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