The NBA’s free agent class of 2019 is expected to feature a bumper crop of top-tier veterans who could easily take their talents to other teams if the price is right. While this summer saw the likes of LeBron James, DeMarcus Cousins, and Julius Randle switch teams via free agency, with Carmelo Anthony also likely to find a new NBA home in the coming days, next summer’s class could be led by All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kevin Durant. Recent NBA rumors have pointed to all three players being on the New York Knicks’ radar, but a new report suggests that the team might be “playing it safe,” especially when it comes to the former two.
While the oft-repeated rumor has pointed to Irving and Butler seeking a way to play together for the same team in the 2019-20 season, with the possibility of both players signing with the Knicks frequently thrown around, the Sporting News wrote that there’s a good chance the scenario wouldn’t take place due to a lack of salary cap room. However, the publication added that it won’t be the end of the world for the Knicks if they don’t land one or both big names, as the team’s front office executives are choosing to keep a low profile behind the scenes.
“A lot of the stuff you hear comes from the media and from agents, and that is going to be the case all year,” an unnamed league source told the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney.
“Kyrie Irving comes from the media. Jimmy Butler comes from the media and his agent. That’s not coming from [Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry]. They’re a lot more careful here.”
— New York Knicks News (@N_YKnicksNews) July 26, 2018
According to Deveney, the New York Knicks appear to be trying to avoid the mistakes they made when they were favored to sign LeBron James as a free agent in the summer of 2010 due to his friendship with then-Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony. But instead of landing James, Chris Bosh, or Dwyane Wade, who instead joined forces on the Miami Heat and led the team to two NBA championships, the Knicks ended up with an injury-prone Amar’e Stoudemire and an “increasingly corpulent and ineffective” Raymond Felton as their top free agent signings.
Considering the New York Knicks’ recent lack of success and multiple big contracts, including those of center Joakim Noah and guards Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr., the Sporting News posited that freeing up cap space for Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, or any other top 2019 free agent would be a tall order. Although the publication hinted that this might be easier if they trade one of those players during the 2019 NBA Draft, such a move could force the Knicks to give up a high draft pick, which Deveney described as a potentially “unwise” move.
While the New York Knicks are, per the Sporting News’ Deveney, apparently taking a wait-and-see attitude toward 2019 free agency, that still hasn’t stopped rumors surrounding the team’s plans for next summer from swirling. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Knicks center Enes Kanter recently appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, where he told the show’s eponymous host that Irving, Butler, and even Kevin Durant are interested in joining the Knicks next summer via free agency.