When the 2018-19 NBA season officially came to an end, the New York Knicks expressed strong confidence that they would be acquiring multiple superstars in the summer of 2019. The Knicks entered the 2019 NBA offseason with enough salary cap space to chase big names in the 2019 NBA free agency, also having enough trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal. Unfortunately, after failing to acquire Anthony Davis via trade, the Knicks also ended up being snubbed by their top free-agent targets — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — who both decided to sign with the other team situated in New York, the Brooklyn Nets.
After Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving officially signed a contract with the Nets, the Knicks reportedly claimed that they weren’t really interested in acquiring both superstars, nor reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. However, according to Frank Isola of The Athletic, as quoted by Yahoo Sports, a source who spoke to him revealed that the Knicks were “stunned and depressed” after receiving information that Irving and Durant chose to team up in Brooklyn.
“While the Knicks have spun this notion that they didn’t want meetings with either player — as well as Kawhi Leonard — a team source insists that management was ‘stunned and depressed’ when they learned that Irving and Durant picked the other team in town.”
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the Knicks would feel “stunned and depressed” after failing to acquire Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Before the 2019 NBA free agency started, Knicks owner James Dolan had been assuring fans that they would build a roster that had a realistic chance of contending for the NBA championship title next season. Unfortunately, none of their newest acquisitions are considered to be league superstars.
After all of their top targets found a new home, the Knicks ended up using their salary cap space to sign the likes of Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Reggie Bullock, Bobby Portis, and Taj Gibson. The Knicks undeniably have a better roster as compared last year, but they aren’t generally considered to be a legitimate playoff contender in the Eastern Conference. Though team brass have said that they are aiming to end their playoff drought, the Knicks’ top priority in the 2019-20 NBA season is expected to be the development of their young players like R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina.
Despite being snubbed by Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the Knicks still haven’t fully given up on adding a serious NBA superstar to their roster. The Knicks purposefully filled their roster with one-year contracts in order to maintain their salary cap flexibility in the summer of 2020, when All-Star center Anthony Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent.