The New York Knicks just finished up tying the worst season in the history of the franchise. Mostly by design as New York originally was preaching patience. The team focused on developing talent and not making short sighted free agency moves. Fast forward to this off-season and the Knicks are back in an all or nothing situation. New York will attempt to leverage their market but will it finally work? They traded franchise building block Kristaps Porzingis among others to Dallas for Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks. While Kristaps was no longer confident in New York, the team made a clear choice to go all in July first. So let’s take a look ahead at the upcoming off-season for the Knicks.
With the coaching staff and general manager in place, New York will have stability in the front office to have a clear direction on the type of players they are looking to bring in. David Fizdale didn’t have a great first season in New York, but the organization knows that this was going to take some time. Scott Perry is the current general manager for the Knicks. In his first off-season, he found solid contributions in the NBA draft in Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson.
The first major part of the off-season will be the draft lottery. The Knicks finished with the worst record in the NBA at 17-65. Currently, they have a 14% chance to land the number one overall pick tied with Phoenix and Cleveland. The luck of the ping pong balls will have a major impact on the off season for New York. Currently if they land the number one pick they would have the opportunity to draft Zion Williamson out of Duke with the chance to keep him in New York or using him as a package for a player like Anthony Davis. Staying in the top three will be crucial for New York to having the flexibility to add one of the top regarded talents or having a valuable trade chip.
There is probably no bigger date circled on the calendar though than july first. This is what the Knicks are banking their cap space on. A big reason the Knicks moved Porzingis to Dallas and got back what they did was with an eye on free agency to clear to space for two max contracts. This is eerily similar to the summer of 2010, where the Knicks coveted cap space to try to lure star free agents like LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to the mega market. New York struck out though, with the top free agents deciding to sign elsewhere, they were left to sign Amar’e Stoudemire and overpay Raymond Felton. They can not afford to make the same mistake twice.
Priority number one will be to sign Kevin Durant. There have been many reports stating that this is a forgone conclusion but nobody should be confident in what Durant is thinking until the contract is signed. It is rumored that Kyrie Irving wants to play with Durant and there is a possibility that they both sign with New York. While this is the dream scenario New York does have to be careful if this plan falls through. If they can get Durant and not Irving, Kemba Walker is another player you can max and feel confident about. If they can’t land any of those stars New York has to be careful how they attack free agency. They can not afford to over pay good but not franchise players like Kris Middleton franchise money.
If the worst case scenario happens (in which history says is very possible) the Knicks should look to use that cap space in more creative ways. With next years free agent class not as star studded as this one, they should possibly look into using that cap to absorb contracts and forcing teams to attach a pick to them similar to what Brooklyn did. Gaining extra picks will be valuable for a team looking to acquire talent and gives more flexibility for future moves with more assets. The worst thing they could do is overpay the mid tier of free agents locking them into the same pattern they have been in for over a decade.
The off-season will be defined in headlines by if the Knicks get a star player or two in free agency. But the bigger defining part for the franchise will be by the moves made if they don’t. The Knicks seem to be in an all or nothing situation. They could be a team with Durant, Irving, and a high draft pick or even Anthony Davis contending for an eastern conference title. Just as much of a possibility though, is that they end of with mainly the same roster with some new players on one year deals and others coming to New York on bloated contracts from other teams. A season where you will get extended runs again from Knox, Robinson, Smith Jr, and whatever players added from the draft. In which case they will be looking forward to another off-season again hopefully with more draft picks at their disposal to try to build a team that can contend for a title in what has always been considered the mecca of basketball.
Featured photo credit: www.nytimes.com
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