The New York Knicks are one of the NBA teams expected to be major players in the 2019 NBA free agency. After trading the lucrative contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks before the February NBA trade deadline, the Knicks have opened up enough salary cap space to sign two max free agents in the summer of 2019. The 2018-19 NBA season is still far from being over, but several incoming free agent superstars have already been linked to the Knicks, including Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.
In the past months, rumors and speculations are swirling around the league that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will be leaving their respective teams to team up with the Knicks in the 2019 NBA offseason. Knicks owner James Dolan expressed strong confidence that they could acquire superstars next summer, but it seems like they are not only focusing on max free agents. According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks are also keeping an eye on second-tier free agents like Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks, Tobias Harris of the Philadelphia 76ers, and Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic.
“According to an NBA source, Perry believes evaluating players during the playoffs is more important than the regular season, to witness how they perform in ‘high-pressure environments.’ The Knicks scouting has not focused on the so-called ‘max’ free agents but second-tier ones — for example, Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic — and role players — such as Indiana’s Wesley Matthews, whom the Knicks still have their eye on despite buying him out.”
I’ve been around thousands of athletes over the years as a sportswriter. I have NEVER met anyone who has impacted as many lives as @tobiasharris. I’ll always have the utmost respect for this young man! #MuchRespectFlow https://t.co/bgxITcTaFP via @phillydotcom #NBA #PhilaUnite— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) May 4, 2019
It is definitely a smart move for the Knicks to consider a Plan B if ever they fail to acquire their top targets on the free agency market. Sending members of their front office to scout soon-to-be free agents who played or are currently playing in the 2019 NBA Playoffs will give them an assurance that they will use their $74 million salary cap space to sign the right players.
Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic may not be on the level of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they could still make the Knicks a more competitive team in the 2019-20 NBA season. Aside from the 2019 NBA free agency, the Knicks also have the capability to improve their roster via trade next summer. If they land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, there is speculation that the Knicks plan to use it as the main trade chip to acquire Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.