NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving & Kawhi Leonard Will Be Knicks' Top Targets In Free Agency, Per 'ESPN'

JB Baruelo

The New York Knicks may have missed the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the sixth straight year, but they have the opportunity to build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship in the 2019-20 NBA season. After trading the lucrative contracts of Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, the Knicks have opened up enough salary cap space that they could chase two superstars in the 2019 NBA free agency.

In the past few months, the Knicks have already been frequently linked to several incoming free agent superstars. However, according to Ian Begley of ESPN, some opposing league executives think that the Knicks will only consider giving a long-term contract to the likes of Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors, Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, and Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors.

Of all those three superstars, Kevin Durant is highly expected to sign with the Knicks next July. As Begley noted, it's easier to find street parking in Manhattan than find NBA executives, players, and coaches who don't see Durant joining the Knicks in free agency. Durant's former and current teammates strongly believe that the All-Star forward is New York-bound, while an opposing agent said that the KD-to-Knicks is already a done deal, even before the 2019 NBA free agency started.

"Some of Durant's former teammates think it's going to happen, per ESPN sources. Several of his current teammates have told friends that they think it's going to happen, sources said. Opposing agents believe it's a fait accompli: 'Just a matter of putting pen to paper,' is how one agent of another top free agent in the 2019 free-agent class put it."

After giving Kevin Durant a max contract, the Knicks should do everything they can to sign at least one of Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard. Before he was traded to the Raptors, Leonard reportedly viewed the Knicks as a possible destination. However, there's a growing belief around the league that Leonard is more likely to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers or return to Toronto than choose the Knicks in free agency.

Meanwhile, after committing to re-sign with the Celtics before the start of the 2018-19 NBA season, Kyrie Irving is already wanting to keep his options open next July and will reportedly consider the Knicks as a potential landing spot when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. As of now, the only thing that can convince Irving to stay in Boston is if the Celtics succeed in winning the 2019 NBA championship.