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K.J. McDaniels: The bargain hunter’s special

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Houston Rockets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If K.J. McDaniels works out, becomes even close to a reliable 3-and-D player with the Nets, it will go down as a great bargain. That’s because the Nets acquired the 6’6” swingman for $75,000 in cash, the minimum an NBA team can pay in “cash considerations.” The Nets didn’t give up a heavily protected second rounder or swap picks or trade draft rights to a Euro-stash. Just cash and very little of that.

For the Rockets, it was a pure salary dump. They want money to sign players in the upcoming “buyout market,” those players, mostly veterans, who get dropped this time of year and are looking to help a contender. So, McDaniels’ $3.3. million salary was moved from Houston to Brooklyn, as did his team option for next season.

“To get a free shot at a guy like K.J. that other teams have liked around the league for whatever reason, we’re lucky enough that he fell in our lap,’’ Atkinson said. “His athleticism, his ability to finish at the rim, how hard he plays defensively, he can be a good fit for us. I’m excited for him.”

Not that his statistics this season would give him a lot of hope. He played only 212 minutes this season for the Rockets, averaging 2.8 points but his 45.6 percent from the floor, 33.3 percent from deep and 90.0 percent from the free-throw line this year are all career-highs.

Two years ago, he was adored in Philadelphia for his athleticism and drive. McDaniels averaged 25.4 minutes and 9.2 points per game over a 52 game stretch. He also had a 49.9 percent true shooting percentage. He wowed 76ers fans with his near 7-foot wingspan and 37” max vertical. They were not pleased with the deal that sent him to the Rockets.

Will he play? Will he get a chance? He hopes so.

“I felt like it’s a great opportunity for me. It’s a new beginning on my journey in the NBA, and I’m excited,’’ McDaniels told beat writers. “I feel like there’s always room to improve. I felt like with the opportunity I’ll be able to go out there and show Brooklyn what I do, and play both ends of the court and just try to bring energy.

“Everyone knows I’m athletic. I’m basically just working on my game, get my IQ up, and focusing on [improving my] shooting, playing defense, being a tick on the defensive end, being in everybody’s grille. Just expanding my game.”

Atkinson has said he think of the Nets young free agent pick-ups as draft pick equivalents. McDaniels has just turned 24 and if he develops, he will be a nice addition to the roster. If not, like four of his teammates, he can be dumped over the summer.

At $75,000, this wasn’t a low-risk, high reward move. It was NO risk and better than a copier.