Despite failing to enter the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, the New York Knicks have expressed strong optimism that they won’t remain as one of the worst NBA teams in the league for long. 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 chase at least two big names in the 2019 NBA free agency where Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors and Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics emerged as their top targets.
Entering the 2019 NBA offseason with max salary space and a plethora of trade assets, the Knicks put themselves in a strong position to build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season. The summer of 2019 has just started but according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the Knicks’ offseason is “shaping up as another letdown.”
The first player to be crossed out of the Knicks’ wish list is Zion Williamson. Though they finished the 2018-19 NBA season with the worst record, the Knicks still failed to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft which ended up to the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans. Meanwhile, weeks before the 2019 NBA free agency starts, rumors and speculations have started to circulate that Kyrie Irving prefers to join another team situated in New York – the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant may have been rumored to be interested in signing with the Knicks but he’s expected to miss an entire season after suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Meanwhile, when the Pelicans started listening to trade offers for Anthony Davis, the Knicks were named as one of the two NBA teams where the All-Star center will consider staying long-term. However, as Bondy noted, the Pelicans weren’t a fan of the trade assets the Knicks currently have which made them decide to trade Davis to the Lakers in exchange for Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks.
“The Knicks own several future draft picks — including the third overall pick this month — but being the worst team in the NBA has a price. The value of the roster is poor despite the franchise’s efforts to push Knox and Mitchell Robinson as future All-Stars. This is why drafting right and developing right and winning games actually matters. Over the previous four years, the Knicks have had the No. 4 pick, the No. 8 pick and the No. 9 pick. Today, that translates to Knox and Frank Ntilikina. New York’s best asset on the roster is probably Robinson, who was drafted in the second round last year.”
Even if they failed to acquire Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis, the Knicks could still use their salary cap space and trade assets to chase other NBA superstars who will be available on the free agency and trade market. However, as of now, there is a strong chance that the Knicks will leave the 2019 NBA offseason empty-handed.