The New York Knicks are set to miss the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the sixth straight year, but when the 2018-19 NBA season is over, they have a strong chance of making a huge upgrade to their roster. After dumping the lucrative contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, the Knicks opened up enough salary cap space to chase two superstars in the 2019 NBA free agency. In the past few months, several NBA superstars have been linked to the Knicks, including Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, and Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors.
However, the Knicks aren’t the only NBA team who will have the money to go after two max free agents next July. By renouncing all their incoming free agents, the Los Angeles Clippers are also capable of pursuing two incoming free agent superstars, and Marc Berman of the New York Post sees them as the Knicks’ “toughest foe” in the 2019 NBA free agency. Berman thinks that teaming up on the Clippers could be “more appealing” to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant than rescuing the worst team in the NBA.
“When the Knicks battle for the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, the Clippers stand as possibly their toughest foe. The Clippers traded their top scorer and free-agent-to-be Tobias Harris at the deadline to put them in position to have two max-salary slots — like the Knicks. The Clippers still are winning without Harris and own a solid young corps headed by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the rookie point guard from Kentucky, who is having a better rookie year than his former teammate, Kevin Knox, an injury victim in Sunday’s loss.”
It would definitely be not a surprise if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving decide to choose the Clippers over the Knicks in free agency. While the Knicks continue to rot at the bottom of the league, the Clippers remain a competitive team in the Western Conference despite losing their “Big Three” last summer. Durant and Irving would surely want to be part of the team with a winning culture than a team who is still finding their identity.
In the case of Kevin Durant, Berman opened up the possibility that DeAndre Jordan, who is currently playing for the Knicks, could serve as the Clippers’ main recruiter next summer. Jordan is a close pal of Durant and despite what happened last summer, the veteran center still wants to reunite with Coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.