Despite missing the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the sixth straight year, New York Knicks owner James Dolan has expressed strong confidence that they could build a roster that can legitimately contend for the NBA championship title in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Knicks entered the summer of 2019 with enough salary cap space to chase at least two max free agents and a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal.
Unfortunately, since the 2019 offseason started, the Knicks continue to suffer disappointments, one after another. Aside from failing to land the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and acquire Anthony Davis via trade, the Knicks were also snubbed by their top targets on the free agency market – Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both ended up signing max contracts with the Brooklyn Nets. Speaking on WFAN Sports Radio, former NBA superstar Charles Oakley revealed one of the major reasons why most of the big names decided to avoid the Knicks in this summer’s free agency.
“For the fans, New York is New York,” Oakley said, as quoted by SportsNet New York. “But for the players now, it’s just a different ball game. I mean, they don’t want to be around a bad, toxic situation.”
Charles Oakley claimed that before the 2019 NBA free agency officially started, he had conversations with some of the incoming free agents and their representatives, saying that “a lot of them” remain upset about what happened two years ago. Oakley believes that the culture that team owner James Dolan built is preventing superstars from coming to New York.
“They’re not trying to go to an environment where someone says something, and somebody is going to come talk to him with an axe, or someone is going to come and put handcuffs on him,” Oakley said. “They don’t want that kind of environment… I just feel bad for the city of New York, the fans that give their heart and soul and sweat and tears to come to games, and they have to keep going through this.”
A day after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the Brooklyn Nets, Knicks great Charles Oakley, who has a pending lawsuit against team owner James Dolan, said on @WFAN660 that the culture created under Dolan has steered players away: https://t.co/LJmRljexDB
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) July 2, 2019
Whether Charles Oakley’s statements are true or not, this offseason has undeniably broken the hearts of all the Knicks’ fans. Instead of having the “Big Three” of Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving, the Knicks ended up using their salary cap space to sign the likes of Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington in the 2019 NBA free agency. One of the Knicks’ top targets, Kawhi Leonard, is still available on the free agency market, but they no longer have the money to offer him a max deal. Even if they have a max slot, the Knicks aren’t included on the list of Leonard’s preferred landing spots this summer.