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How Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Mikal Bridges’ looming contract extensions impact Knicks future cap flexibility

Contract extensions are looming, and for a Knicks franchise with championship aspirations, every dollar has potential ramifications imposed by the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement.

Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and Mikal Bridges are each eligible for contract extensions in the coming weeks and months.

Here is a look at what each of those extensions could look like, how soon they can be signed, and the impact each of those extensions can have given the complications posed by the first and second apron.


Brunson is extension-eligible after a monster season securing both first-time All-Star and All-NBA honors.

He left the Dallas Mavericks to sign a four-year, $104 million free agent deal with the Knicks in the summer of 2022, and Friday, July 12 marks the two-year anniversary to the date he signed the deal, making him eligible to sign a contract extension that would keep the All-Star guard at Madison Square Garden potentially through 2029.

Brunson has one more guaranteed year worth $24.96 million left on his contract. He can decline the fourth and final year of his deal — also worth $24.96 million — to test free agency and secure a pay raise on the open market.

To avoid that, the Knicks can offer a maximum of a 40 percent raise in an extension worth an additional four years at $156.5 million on Friday. If Brunson and the Knicks don’t reach an agreement on an extension this summer, he will be eligible for a five-year, $269.1 million max contract in the summer of 2025.

Should Brunson take the extension on the table, he would have a potential payment schedule of $34.94 million in Year 1, $37.7 million in Year 2, $40.5 million in Year 3 and $43.3 million in Year 4.

His Year 1 salary would reflect as about $10 million more than the $24.96 million player option he would decline to agree to an extension.


Randle signed a three-year, $62.1 million deal to leave the New Orleans Pelicans for the Knicks in 2019. He then signed a four-year contract extension worth $117 million to continue building a contender in New York.

The 2024-25 season marks the final guaranteed year on his deal, as Randle can decline the $30.9 million player option on the fourth and final year of his contract and enter free agency.

Because Randle’s extension lengthened his first contract in New York to more than four seasons, he becomes eligible to sign a new extension on the third anniversary of signing the deal.

ESPN reported Randle and the Knicks reached an agreement on an extension on Aug. 5, 2021.

When Randle’s early-August anniversary date arrives, the Knicks will be eligible to offer him a 40 percent raise, or a four-year deal worth $181.5 million potentially structured as $40.28 million in Year 1, $43.5 million in Year 2, $46.98 million in Year 3, and $50.74 million in Year 4.

If he accepts this offer, it will reflect as $10.4 million more than the $30.9 million player option he declines to extend his time in New York.


Bridges signed a four-year, $90.9 million rookie extension with the Phoenix Suns in October of 2021 and was later traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the package for Kevin Durant in 2023, the first year of his extension.

He is entering the third year of the deal and is scheduled to make $23.3 million in the 2024-25 season, then $24.9 million in the 2025-26 season.

His current contract contains no options.

Bridges can sign an extension that lengthens his current contract to five or six seasons, meaning he will only be eligible to sign a two-year extension when his window opens on Oct. 1. He, too, can command a 40 percent raise, or a two-year $72.5 million extension. If he waits until the end of the 2024-25 season to negotiate an extension, he can secure a third year worth $40.3 million, increasing the total value of his extension to $112.9 million.

Because Bridges’ current deal has no options, his potential extension would kick in to begin the 2026-27 NBA season.

Bridges, however, would be leaving a massive amount of money on the table if he signed an extension in October. If he were to test free agency in the summer of 2026, he would be eligible for 30 percent of the projected $170.61 million salary cap, or a five-year deal worth $296.8 million.


The Knicks already project to have $118.25 million in guaranteed salaries for the 2025-26 NBA season. The payroll breaks down as follows, according to data from Spotrac:

  • OG Anunoby: $39,568,966
  • Bridges: $24,900,000
  • Josh Hart: $19,472,240
  • Mitchell Robinson: $12,954,546
  • Donte DiVincenzo: $11,990,000
  • Miles McBride:$4,333,333
  • Pacome Dadiet: $2,847,600
  • Tyler Kolek: $2,191,897

If both Brunson and Randle agree to extensions this offseason at the 40 percent max raise the Knicks can offer, and if the contracts are in a traditional ascending structure, the Knicks would add an additional $75.22 million in salaries, bringing the 2025-26 payroll north of $193 million for 10 players on the roster.

Here are the salary cap related projections for the 2025 NBA season, assuming the cap increases the maximum of 10 percent after the renegotiation of the NBA’s broadcast rights deal:

  • Projected 2025 salary cap: $155.1 million
  • Projected 2025 luxury tax level: $188.4465 million
  • Projected 2025 first apron: $195.9452 million
  • Projected 2025 second apron: $207.8241 million

Which means if the Knicks have the same players on the roster entering next summer, they will be just two million shy of the first apron and $14 million shy of the second apron with just 10 players on the roster. This does not include a backup center, as Jericho Sims will become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2024-25 season.

This is important because teams with payrolls exceeding the first and second aprons face restrictive roster-building penalties. Teams above the first apron, for example, cannot:

  • Acquire a player using the bi-annual or non-taxpayer mid-level exception
  • Acquire a player in a sign-and-trade
  • Sign a player on the buyout market whose salary was equal to or greater than the non-taxpayer mid-level exception
  • Acquire a player using a traded player exception
  • Take back more money than they are sending out in a trade

Teams above the second apron face stiffer restrictions, including all imposed on first apron offenders:

  • They lose their tax-payer’s mid-level exception
  • They are prohibited both from using their own free agents in a sign-and-trade
  • They won’t be able to send out more than one player, or aggregate players, in a trade
  • They can’t use any trade exceptions generated in previous seasons
  • They can’t use cash in a trade or buy draft picks from other teams

And then, there’s the draft pick rule: Teams who finish a season above the second apron have their draft pick seven years later frozen, ineligible to be traded. In this instance, it’s the 2033 pick, seven years after the 2025-26 NBA season, the first year Brunson and Randle’s potential extensions kick in, should the Knicks be second apron offenders.

And if the same team were to finish two of the following four seasons above the second apron, the frozen pick would be automatically moved to the end of that draft’s first round. Picks seven years out in the additional years above the second apron would continue to be frozen.

Meaning the forthcoming potential extensions for Brunson, Randle and Bridges project to be expensive in many more ways than just the payroll and luxury taxes, though it’s hard to put a price tag on a championship.

For the record, the reigning champion Boston Celtics are the most expensive team in basketball. You have to pay to play if the game is winning a title.


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