By engaging in a blockbuster trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, the New York Knicks didn’t only acquire young and promising talent in Dennis Smith Jr. and future draft assets, but they also open a huge chunk of their salary cap space that they could use to sign big names in the 2019 NBA offseason. As of now, Golden State Warriors small forward Kevin Durant emerged as the Knicks’ top target in the free agency market.
However, as everyone knows, Kevin Durant alone won’t be enough to bring the Knicks back to title contention. Once they succeed to steal Durant from the Warriors, Marc Berman of the New York Post suggested that the Knicks may consider pursuing Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks.
“If Kevin Durant is going to take the plunge and sign with the Knicks in an attempt to become bigger than LeBron James, he needs a starry partner. That’s why the Knicks made expanding their cap space a priority in the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster. If it’s not point guard Kyrie Irving, then getting a shooting guard/small forward All-Star in Middleton might make as much sense, especially if the Knicks are confident Dennis Smith Jr. is going to develop into a special player.”
— USA TODAY NBA (@usatodaynba) February 17, 2019
From being the No. 39th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Khris Middleton has succeeded to turn himself into an NBA All-Star this season. As a member of Team Giannis in the 2019 NBA All-Star Game, Middleton finished with 20 points. five rebounds, and four assists on 53.8 percent shooting from the field and 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. Middleton will be an incredible addition to the Knicks, giving Kevin Durant an All-Star caliber partner who can also be tasked to guard the opposing team’s best player.
Despite his impressive performance in the 2018-19 NBA season where he’s currently averaging 17.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.1 steals on 43.6 percent shooting from the field and 37.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc, Khris Middleton isn’t expected to demand a max contract in the 2019 NBA free agency. As Berman noted, this will allow the Knicks to sign another incoming free agent superstar who is a close buddy of Durant, DeAndre Jordan.
DeAndre Jordan was part of the trade package that the Mavericks sent to the Knicks before the February NBA trade deadline. Though most people view him as a potential buyout candidate, the Knicks have revealed their plan to make Jordan a part of their long-term future. Playing on a big market team to chase for his first NBA championship title with Kevin Durant and Khris Middleton could be enough for Jordan to take a huge discount on his next contract.