The New York Knicks may have been rotting at the bottom of the league for the past six years, but they remain very optimistic that they could soon return to title contention. When their 2018-19 NBA season officially came to an end, Knicks owner James Dolan expressed confidence that incoming free agent superstars will be heading to New York in the summer of 2019. During that time, rumors and speculation have been circulating that Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors and Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics would be signing with the Knicks in the 2019 NBA free agency.
However, as the 2019 NBA free agency draws near, reports are surfacing that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant could join another team situated in New York: the Brooklyn Nets. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Irving’s interest in the Nets has “increased.” Wojnarowski revealed that the Nets’ “dream scenario” is to acquire both Irving and Durant this summer.
Wojnarowski’s recent revelation is undeniably bad news for the Knicks. Luckily, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, the Knicks have formulated a Plan B in case they fail to sign their top targets in the 2019 NBA free agency. One of the incoming free agent superstars that the Knicks consider as a “solid backup option” is Kawhi Leonard of the Toronto Raptors.
“This time, the Knicks are not pushing all of their chips — or max salary slots — into the pursuit of one player. According to a source with knowledge of their plans, the team is expected to push hard for Leonard when free agency begins on June 30 at 6 p.m. While Durant’s flirtation with New York has been immersed in talk of branding deals and production opportunities, the Knicks’ front office is enamored with Leonard’s two-way skills. Leonard is a star without seeking the spotlight. He is a polite, but bland interview.”
For an indication of how much the logo story I just RT’d means to Kawhi Leonard, here is our @NYTSports piece going into the NBA Finals which detailed the Clippers’ flirtation with buying out Nike’s portion of the rights to give them to Kawhi —> https://t.co/U0yQm53WKR— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 3, 2019
Kawhi Leonard is one of the few NBA superstars who have the ability to lead a team to title contention. Aside from being a very reliable scoring option, Leonard would give the Knicks a known defensive specialist who can be tasked to guard the opposing team’s best player in crucial situations. In the 60 games he played this season, the 27-year-old small forward averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.8 steals on 49.6 percent shooting from the field, and 37.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
To strengthen their chance of winning an NBA championship, the Knicks should surround Kawhi Leonard with quality players. They could use their second max slot to chase the likes of Kemba Walker in free agency, and use their trade assets to go after Anthony Davis, who is highly expected to be available on the trade market this summer.