Can the Knicks create a roster spot by converting an NBA contract into a two-way?

Allonzo Trier is making a lot of general managers and scouts look bad across the league. Well, except for those who call the shots for the Knicks.

The undrafted guard from Arizona is proving he was clearly worth at least a second round selection. Lucky for the Knicks, they were able to sign him as an undrafted free agent on a two-way contract.

A two-way contract allows a player to play up to 45 days in the NBA during a given season. The player must spend the rest of the season with the team’s G-League affiliate. Trier’s 45 days with the Knicks were extended by a week since NBA service days for two-way considerations don’t begin to count until the G-League team starts training camp. With the added few days, Trier can play up until December 5 on the Knicks, if he remains on the NBA roster continuously up until that date. At that point, it’s expected the Knicks will sign him to a standard NBA contract.

Which brings us to the point of this post: can the Knicks create a roster spot for Allonzo Trier by converting an NBA contract to a two-way contract, essentially swapping someone’s spot with Trier’s?

Let’s use Luke Kornet as an example.

After being assigned to Westchester to get some extra reps on November 5, speculation has already started that Kornet could be the odd man out when the Knicks need to make a roster move to convert Trier from a two-way to a standard NBA contract.

One reporter speculates that the Knicks could waive Kornet, and then re-sign him on a two-way contract. This sounds pretty logical. It would create a roster spot for Trier. And Kornet gets to stay with the Knicks, mixing his NBA time with Westchester time, as he might already do this season, anyway.

However, the pesky rulebook doesn’t allow this scenario to happen.

Can the Knicks waive Kornet and then re-sign him to a two-way contract?

Two-way contracts do not count against team salary in cap calculations, even when the player is playing in the NBA. This is a player-friendly rule to allow teams to give two-way players a shot without impacting their salary cap position. However, the maximum amount of compensation protection on a two-way contract is limited to $50,000. Therefore, any player who has more than $50,000 guaranteed on their contract falls out of the criteria for two-way consideration.

The Knicks signed Luke Kornet to a one-year, $1.6 million deal this summer, which is fully guaranteed.

Since Luke Kornet is owed more than $50,000 in guaranteed money this season, if the Knicks waive him, he would be prohibited from playing for their G-League affiliate or signing a two-way contract with the team for the rest of the season.

Can they convert his standard NBA contract to a two-way contract?

If they can’t waive him and re-sign him, what about simply converting his standard NBA contract to a two-way contract similar to how they could convert Trier’s two-way contract to a standard NBA contract?

Remember when the Knicks signed all of those players to Exhibit 10 contracts? The Exhibit 10 clause is what allows teams to convert standard NBA contracts into two-way contracts; but the catch, once again, is that the contract cannot include more than $50,000 in compensation protection. In addition, a standard NBA contract with an Exhibit 10 clause must be converted to a two-way contract prior to the start of the NBA season.

Since Kornet signed a one-year, $1.6 million guaranteed contract this summer, the guarantee amount prevents him from having an Exhibit 10 clause. And since the season has already started, even if he did have an Exhibit 10 clause, it would be too late to convert him to a two-way anyway.

What does this all mean?

The Knicks cannot waive any player on their roster who is on a standard NBA contract and then re-sign them as a two-way player, and they cannot convert any of them into a two-way players.

If the Knicks want to create an extra roster spot for Allonzo Trier, they will have to find another way.

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