NBA Rumors: Knicks Could Replicate Lakers’ 2018 Strategy If They Fail To Land Top Offseason Targets, Per ‘SNY’

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics takes a shot against Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on November 16, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Entering the 2019 NBA offseason, the New York Knicks expressed confidence that they could build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship in the 2019-20 NBA season. After engaging in a blockbuster deal with 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, and acquired trade assets that they could use to engage in a blockbuster deal this summer.

However, as of now, the Knicks no longer look very optimistic about their chances of landing multiple superstars. From talking about the high possibility of returning to title contention, Knicks President Steve Mills is now once again demanding more patience from their fans, according to Ian Begley of SportsNet New York.

“I think we’re asking them [the fans] to continue to be patient. We laid out a plan when Scott [Perry] came on board and then David [Fizdale] joined us, that we were gonna build this team the right way,” Mills said.

Lots of things have happened since the 2019 NBA offseason started. Despite having the worst record in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Knicks failed to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Their top trade target, Anthony Davis, ended up being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks.

With Kyrie Irving likely headed to the Brooklyn Nets and Kevin Durant expected to spend the entire 2019-20 NBA season recovering from an injury, the Knicks have reportedly shifted their focus on making a bigger push for Kawhi Leonard. However, though he opted out of the final year of his contract, Leonard is believed to be “seriously considering” re-signing with the Toronto Raptors.

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If the Knicks fail to acquire their top targets this offseason, they could replicate the strategy the Lakers used in the 2018 NBA offseason. As Begley noted, the Knicks may consider going after short-term contracts to preserve their salary cap space for the summer of 2020.

“The Knicks also don’t plan to commit long-term money to a player that isn’t on the list of their top targets. If they miss out on their top targets, the Knicks are more likely to pursue short-term contracts to maintain cap flexibility. This is basically what Mills and GM Scott Perry have communicated since taking over — a patient approach and spending money if they see fit.”

Leaving the 2019 NBA offseason empty-handed rather than committing a huge chunk of their salary cap space on the wrong players would be a wise move for the Knicks. The free agent class of 2020 may not be as talented as this year’s group, but there are still players that could turn things around for the Knicks, including Anthony Davis.