The summer we have all been waiting for is officially upon us. With the NBA having now come and gone with the Knicks selecting RJ Barrett, all eyes are on Free Agency.
The Knicks head into this period with the most money out of any team. The Knicks will have north of $70 million to spend. With the Knicks still in the running for Kevin Durant, what should they do with all the money?
Step 1) Sign KD
Regardless of the Achilles injury, 3 years of KD is better than 0 years. While it wouldn’t be as disappointing if he were not to come, his signing would provide a big jump forward. Being able to build the team for another season before Durant’s return would be perfect. All signs to this point see KD leaving the Warriors. Rumors have it that he has purchased a house in New York and his surgery and rehab have been taking place here as well.
A 4-year max is what the Knicks should have ready on the table when they meet with KD. With the Warriors rumored to be offering him a 5-year max, the Knicks need to give him a contract on his terms. No injury protections or language that may steer him away.
While KD is expected to meet with 4 teams- Knicks, Warriors, Clippers, and Nets- it’s difficult to see him picking the Clippers or Nets. Why leave the Warriors and playing alongside Steph Curry to play for the secondary teams in their respective markets? It doesn’t make sense for a player of his status, or for his business, he has off the court. The Knicks have the fanbase, business opportunity, and branding that KD would desire. Not to mention, upon return he has The Garden waiting to erupt as the biggest stage in basketball.
The Knicks will offer Durant the max, as they should.
Step 2) Don’t Worry About Another Star…Yet
With Kyrie Irving seemingly closer to joining the Nets every day, the Knicks should use the remaining cap space wisely. Kyrie Irving doesn’t make you a championship contender on his own, whether with the Knicks or Brooklyn. The additional $30+ million in space should be used on 1-2 year deals for competitive veterans that can help the young players this season.
With a solid nucleus of young players, the Knicks need veterans to teach them how to win. While New York has no expectations to make the playoffs, signing good players on 1-year deals to compete is the perfect strategy. The team wins more games this year, maintains cap flexibility, and earns another lottery pick.
The NBA always has a disgruntled star. It’s important for New York to collect assets and maintain cap flexibility to be at the forefront of any potential trade. That gives them the ability to add a star for Kevin Durant’s return while keeping some pieces to make them a championship contender.
There’s only 1 other star they should spend the remaining money on…
Step 3) Get A Meeting With Kawhi Leonard
Why is this important? Well, for a couple of reasons. If we remember to last year when he requested a trade from San Antonio, LA and NY were the two main places he wanted to go to. While we understand he desires to live in LA (he’s from there), he also has an interest in the New York market. There are only 2 teams in free agency that can afford to pay both him and KD- the Knicks and the Clippers.
If Kevin Durant signs with the Knicks, that’s a huge selling point to Kawhi Leonard. While it’s hard to speculate what the relationship is between the two of them, Kawhi getting to play with KD would be an attractive scenario. Would Kawhi want to join the Lakers with LeBron and Anthony Davis already there? Potentially. But staying in the Eastern Conference to lead a team on his own before KD comes back, while simultaneously growing his brand in the largest market in the US isn’t too shabby either.
While it might not be as likely a scenario as others, this is an underrated one. If the Knicks can meet with Kawhi, it means they are a player in his decision. He won’t meet with someone he isn’t considering. He may decide to stay in Toronto but all the Knicks can do is get him to meet and go from there.
Step 4) Accepting That You May Miss Out, and That’s Ok
Free agency is a crapshoot. You’re not sure what guys are thinking and although you might have insight, they change their minds a lot. The Knicks have tons of cap flexibility and 7 1st round picks over the next 5 years. Not to mention, they have one of the best young cores in the NBA. It’s been a long time since Knicks fans had a young core like this one to follow and grow with.
Don’t forget, agents used to steer their players away from the Knicks. That is no longer the case. Over the past year, the Knicks have been linked and desired as a market by KD, Kyrie, Anthony Davis, and Kawhi. Those are some of the biggest names in the sport that see the Knicks as a viable option for their careers. That in and of itself is a huge sign the franchise is headed in the right direction.
All we know heading into tomorrow it to expect the unexpected. While the big names will steal the spotlight, roughly 200 players are free agents this summer. That’s approximately 40% of the NBA.
Teams will look a lot different next season, with the potential for new contenders to come about. That’s what makes this exciting no matter what team you root for and make the NBA the best league in the world.
Featured Image: Basketball Forever