NBA Rumors: Knicks Reveal Why They Cancelled Free Agency Meeting With Kawhi Leonard, Per ‘New York Post’

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors reacts against the Golden State Warriors in the second half during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.
Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

The New York Knicks entered the 2019 NBA offseason with the hope of acquiring multiple superstars that could help them return to title contention and end their more than four decades of title drought. Unfortunately, despite having enough salary cap space for two max slots, most of the free agent superstars don’t seem to have any interest in playing for the Knicks. When the 2019 NBA free agency officially started, two of the Knicks’ top targets, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, ended up joining another team situated in New York, the Brooklyn Nets.

As of now, Kawhi Leonard is the only superstar available on the Knicks’ list of free-agent targets. However, though Leonard’s camp granted them a meeting in the 2019 NBA free agency, Marc Berman of the New York Post revealed that the Knicks backed out of their plan to pursue the All-Star forward.

“According to a source, Leonard agreed to meet with the Knicks, but not until Wednesday after finishing with the Clippers and Lakers. That plan was scratched by Knicks’ brass over logistics. The Knicks had spent almost all of their $70 million cap space in the first 20 hours of free agency, knowing if they waited until the Leonard meeting Wednesday, the players they did sign could be off the market. It was too big a risk, knowing they likely would finish fourth behind the Raptors, Lakers, and Clippers.”

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Unlike the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers, the Knicks don’t think that playing the waiting game for Kawhi Leonard would be a wise move. If they waited for Leonard to make a decision, the Knicks reportedly believed that the players they recently signed would end up joining another team. After Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant decided to join the Nets, the Knicks spent most of the salary cap space to sign the likes Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, and Wayne Ellington in the 2019 NBA free agency.

All those players will undeniably make the Knicks a more competitive team in the 2019-20 NBA season. However, their roster, as currently constructed, won’t put them anywhere near to title contention and they may even have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference next season. Luckily, most of the players that the Knicks recently signed only have one-year guaranteed contracts, giving the Knicks the salary cap flexibility to chase big names in the summer of 2020. As of now, the Knicks only have one roster spot left to fill which could potentially be used to add Lance Thomas or Vince Carter.