October 22, 2003 -- Knicks GM Scott Layden has five days to rid himself of at least one guaranteed contract, and his goal is to shed more.
The Knicks have 16 guaranteed pacts and are required to get down to 15 by Oct. 27, two days before their season opener. That means Layden will have to pull off a 2-for-1 trade or buy out one of the veterans, with the top candidates being Travis Knight and rehabbing Othella Harrington.
One option is exercising the $2 million buyout clause for point guard Charlie Ward, saving them $4M, but that seems highly unlikely because he's been their best player in camp, winning back the starting PG job.
Sources contend 7-6 rookie center Slavko Vranes, their second-round pick, is safe. The Knicks drafted the Serbian giant at No. 39, willing to give him at least two years to see if he can develop into an NBA player. For now, he's a pleasant presence and draws more attention than any Knick in hotel lobbies. At Las Vegas' MGM Grand, one family just wanted a picture with one player: Vranes. His amenable personality allows him to be gracious about being a sideshow attraction.
In truth, Layden would like to get down to 14 contracts so he can offer a deal to former Notre Dame guard Matt Carroll, who has impressed after being their summer-league star.
The Knicks have no true backup shooting guard. Shandon Anderson, a true small forward, has struggled mightily to fill that position during Allan Houston's absence that ended last night vs. the Nets.
Carroll has averaged seven points in 19 minutes. "That's a tough question," Don Chaney said when asked how Carroll sticks around. "I would like to see him on the team. He makes shots. I don't know how it's going to happen."
One Knick trade target, point guard Nick Van Exel, is now out three weeks with a leg injury. If the Knicks do make a 2-for-1 trade, it may not be to upgrade the team, just to get rid of two contracts. Some teams could be interested in Knight, as his $4.4M wage would come off the cap after the season. Harrington has two years and $6M left on his pact.
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