This article was written jointly by Jeffrey Bellone (Knicks Film School) and Jonathan Macri.
Damyean Dotson has fallen out of the Knicks rotation with two consecutive DNP-coach’s decision. This is coming off a nine-game stretch in which Dotson recorded double digits in points scored and started to look like he was coming into his own under coach Fizdale.
So what’s the latest rumor?
As reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post:
Knicks general manager Scott Perry did not draft Dotson. Though president Steve Mills was GM for the 2017 draft, the Dotson pick at No. 44 was spearheaded by former president Phil Jackson and his top adviser, Clarence Gaines, according to sources.
What does this mean?
Nothing. There is no indication that the Knicks are looking to trade Dotson, or that the second round standout is looking to be moved. I don’t doubt the report. I’m sure there are teams calling to check on Dotson, especially with Courtney Lee set to return and Fizdale’s rotation minutes as in flux as a Manhattan street corner.
General Managers and agents are simply doing their jobs to check on situations throughout the league, so I’m sure that is what is happening here.
The bigger question is why this story is coming out now. It would make sense for Dot’s camp to leak other teams’ interest as a way to poke the sleeping bear, and of course to show that he is a player in demand around the league. And why wouldn’t he be; the dude was arguably the Knicks best two-way player in several of the games he appeared in. We’ve been driving the #FreeDot bandwagon since early last season, mostly because he is, at the very least, a solid tradable asset, if not a long term piece.
Should the Knicks entertain offers?
As Moke Hamilton discussed with us recently, the Knicks’ front office is currently evaluating the roster to understand who fits into their long-term plan. Right now, that plan means developing the players on their roster, building up their value as much as possible, and then depending on what happens next summer in the pursuit of Kevin Durant, using some of those players to acquire more talent, clear cap space, or decide to invest in long-term.
What is Dotson’s contract situation?
Dotson signed a 3-year, $4.1 million contract with the Knicks upon entering the league. He is currently in the second year of that deal. His salary next season is non-guaranteed at $1.6 million, so the Knicks could waive him after the season without any cap cost.
Berman’s story notes that teams have inquired about Dot, presumably because he’s been out of the rotation of late, but also because the Knicks have to decide on his non-guaranteed salary for next season. On the one hand, this makes sense, as it seems they will need every last dollar to be able to pursue Kevin Durant. In reality though, any cap savings they gain by waiving Dotson before his guarantee date is offset by a minimum roster charge if they also clear other players to make space for a free agent. The offset of the min roster charge would merely create about $800,000 in cap savings from waiving Dotson outright.
If the genesis of this story is the lack of playing time Dotson is receiving, hence teams calling to check on him, we can’t overlook that there is some logic to why he’s not playing. The most obvious rotation switch would seem to be with Mario Hezonja, who has been shooting dreadfully but has otherwise done what David Fizdale has asked. The team is also 3-1 with him starting, which has to count for something.
Berman implies Dot’s losing time to Mario has to do with the latter’s Orlando connection with Scott Perry, which is entirely possible at this point of the season. Hezonja did pick the Knicks over several other options available to him this summer. He was by no means a big-time free agent, but someone choosing the Knicks due to the basketball situation and not a massive overpay is a small sign of progress. Relegating him to the bench after only 20 or 25 games might be a bad look.
That said, Fiz seems to care not for such trivialities, or at least there have been no such indications. He has indicated that he wants to settle on a rotation by Game 25. If we hit that mark with Dotson still out, expect the noise surrounding what is still a non-story to amp up incrementally between now and February’s trade deadline.