NEW YORK — The Knicks are bringing aboard an Argentine prospect.
The team agreed to a four-year, $13.6 million deal with playmaker Luca Vildoza, a source confirmed, with the final three years non-guaranteed.
Vildoza, 25, will join the Knicks after clearing immigration and COVID-19 protocols, according to a source. Typically, the protocol procedures require almost a week to complete. The Knicks will convert Jared Harper’s contract into a two-way deal to create a roster spot for Vildoza.
Still, Vildoza isn’t expected to make an impact this season or even in the playoffs. The appeal for the Knicks is to own Vildoza’s rights as they evaluate whether he’s worth guaranteeing the contract’s future seasons. An important assessment will be at the Olympics, where Vildoza is slated to play for Argentina, and the Knicks could place him on their 2021 Summer League squad.
Vildoza, a 6-3 point guard, has played his entire pro career in Spain for Baskonia, where he averaged 10.9 points and 3.7 assists in the domestic league last season and a little bit less in Euroleague. He also won silver as an Argentina reserve at the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
The Knicks don’t have an obvious long-term answer at point guard. Elfrid Payton has been the starter for consecutive seasons but production is inconsistent, and his contract is expiring; Derrick Rose, who will also be a free agent, is 32 and probably best utilized in spurts; Immanuel Quickley is more of a scorer than a playmaker; Frank Ntilikina’s time with the Knicks is running out.
If Vildoza sticks, his presence could alter Leon Rose’s free-agency plans. The Knicks are loaded with about $50 million in cap space and could splurge on a point guard, with Lonzo Ball’s restricted free agency looming. The class is overall underwhelming after Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and LeBron James extended their contracts last offseason. Kawhi Leonard represents the only superstar in 2021 free agency, and he’s a longshot to sign with a team other than the Clippers.
Vildoza will be the second Argentine point guard with the Knicks after Pablo Prigioni, who played 2 1/2 seasons in New York.
The Knicks are signing Vildoza using the leftover cap space. ESPN first reported the agreement.