Luka Šamanić was cut by the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, but it didn’t take long for the New York Knicks to come calling.
As first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the New York Knicks are signing former first-round pick Luka Šamanić to a two-way contract. Šamanić will join Jericho Sims as the two guys on two-way contracts for the Knicks.
The Croatian-born big man was the 19th-overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, but he was never able to carve out a role on the San Antonio Spurs. He averages 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 36 games across two seasons.
Šamanić, 21, was likely let go by the Spurs because of his effort, or lack thereof, in a recent preseason game. He gave up on a fast break and even if it’s preseason, that doesn’t fly with Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs today announced that they have waived forward Luka Samanic. Knew this was coming after the give up on this play last night. I've known Pop too long. We talked about it in the sports office as soon as we saw it. 1 said "Surprised he didn't have to walk home." pic.twitter.com/1zGexGCtWH
— Don Harris (@DonHarris4) October 11, 2021
That kind of effort won’t fly with Tom Thibodeau either. However, Šamanić probably won’t be spending much time with the Knicks. He can play up to 50 games in the NBA on his current two-way contract. Most two-way players spend most of their time in the G League.
While this signing might not seem like groundbreaking news, it’s not completely insignificant. Teams are always looking to buy low on former first-round picks. The Knicks are simply taking a flyer on a talented player who didn’t work out at his first stop.
General manager Scott Perry made a habit of signing these reclamation projects prior to the 2019 offseason. The only difference now is that the Knicks are stashing Šamanić in the G League while the old reclamation projects were expected to play major minutes.
It’s unclear whether or not Šamanić will be in New York in time for the Knicks’ final preseason game. They play the Washington Wizards at 7:30 p.m. ET.