Moe Harkless
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

After the New York Knicks’ first practice since the All-Star break, Moe Harkless addressed the elephant in the room: a potential buyout.

TARRYTOWN, NY—Moe Harkless didn’t shy away from the questions about his uncertain future with the New York Knicks. The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly interested in the wing and Harkless is “taking it day-by-day” but a buyout seems like a possibility.

“Honestly, I haven’t put any real thought into it,” Harkless told reporters after practice on Wednesday. “There’s been some talk about it, but I’m kind of just focusing on today. If my agent and I decide to explore that, that’s a conversation we’ll have. But right now, I haven’t really put much thought into it.”

Harkless, 26, made sure to clarify that the buyout talk is coming from the outside and he hears it, but he hasn’t “initiated” any conversations with the Knicks on that possibility. What he plans to do is still unclear.

“I think there’s a few things that factor into it,” Harkless said when asked how he plans to make a decision on a buyout. “What the situation is here, obviously. It is the last year of my contract and whether or not it makes sense to join a contender and just play on the playoff stage. Those are all things we’ve got to think about.”

Plenty of players would jump at the opportunity to join a team with championship aspirations like the Lakers, but Harkless is a Queens native who played his college basketball at St. John’s. New York is home for him and there’s something to be said for that.

“I enjoy being home. I enjoy being able to spend time with my friends and family,” Harkless said. “I’m actually excited about it. I played here in college so I already got a little mini dose of that. It’s on another level now, but it’s something that I enjoy.”

Despite his love for New York, it’s in Harkless’ best interest to seek a buyout and join a contender. For one, the Knicks are in limbo with their lineups and rotations. Interim head coach Mike Miller is going to be balancing winning with developing the youth and it’s hard to see where Harkless fits into that picture.

Moreover, the defensive-minded wing is in the final year of his contract. It would be foolish to prioritize his development over that of young lottery picks like Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina.

Not to mention, playing in primetime playoff games could be a good way for Harkless to boost his value before entering free agency. One big game in the NBA Finals could go a long way come July.

RJ Barrett’s Rising Stars Game

The Knicks weren’t well-represented during All-Star weekend, but RJ Barrett showed out for the orange and blue in the Rising Stars Game on Friday night. Team World fell short against Team USA, but Barrett led all scorers with 27 points while adding in six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.

Julius Randle was busy on vacation with his family so he didn’t see Barrett’s performance live, but he did check out his teammate’s highlights after hearing of his big night. We appreciate Randle’s honesty and it’s understandable that he would rather be hanging out on the beach.

Miller, on the other hand, did see his rookie show out amongst some of the best and brightest young players in the NBA.

“It’s a great experience for young guys to get to do that,” Miller said. “I think you can look at previous players and how they used that game and that platform to continue to grow. I think he did an outstanding job of how he played and how he represented himself.”

News & Notes

  • The Knicks will begin the “second half” of the season on Friday night (7:30 p.m.) against the Indiana Pacers. New York has had success against Indiana this year, losing their first meeting in a heartbreaker before beating the Pacers in Indy earlier this month. Friday’s game will be the last meeting of the year between these two.
  • The Westchester Knicks travel north on Wednesday to face the Raptors 905 (7:30 p.m.). Knicks second-round pick Ignas Brazdeikis continues to light it up in the G League.
NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.