Often times, teams have no idea what they have in front of them until it’s too late. This may be the case with the New York Knicks. While this season has been a wash due to injuries and in-house fighting, the offseason could bring a change. Enes Kanter and Trey Burke will become free agents and the Los Angeles Lakers have the funds to steal both from under their noses.
What the Knicks will be faced with is can they afford to keep Kanter and Burke? While Kanter is signed through 2019, he has a player option for 2018 for $18.6 million. Burke, however, is a free agent and when the Knicks called him up from the G-League, they didn’t expect the type of production he’s giving them. The Knicks are now stuck with a gift and a curse as far as Burke is concerned. And in the wings are the Lakers just watching this all unfold.
With the Lakers expected to be busy this offseason in terms of free agency, their main goals are expected to be LeBron James and Paul George. However, there’s no guarantee that George will want to leave Oklahoma City or James would want to start a new rebuild with the Lakers. This might leave the Lakers with the option to go after Burke as reported by L.A. Sports Hub or take a stab at Kanter to replace Brook Lopez.
Throughout the season, Kanter has been nothing but a steady scoring and rebounding force for the Knicks. His averages of 14.1 points and 11 rebounds in just 25.8 minutes has caught the attention of other teams. Kanter can also opt out but then seek a max deal with the Knicks. But a frontcourt of a healthy Porzingis and Kanter could be too pleasing for the Knicks to pass over. But still, can the Knicks afford to have three players making over $15 million per (Joakim Noah, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Kantner)? And let’s not forget that Porzingis is set to become a free agent in 2019.
Now, the Knicks will have to focus their attention to Burke as well. How much will he want when he hits the market? The Knicks are currently stockpiled at the point guard position with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Burke. Who plays how many minutes and who starts still hasn’t been figured out. Magic Johnson has to be licking his lips right now.
If the Lakers let Lopez go, Kanter will be the next best option. He may not be the best post defender but he will by far be the most productive center the Lakers have had since Pau Gasol. Pairing Kanter with Julius Randle (if they re-sign him), Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma would give the Lakers one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. Why wouldn’t they pay Kanter top dollar?
The same with Burke. He could slide into the starting SG position or play the role of Sixth Man and cause havoc with Kuzma on the second unit. While adding LeBron or George would help, both would cost more than what they could sign Kanter and Burke for and still have a hefty sum left over to add more weapons.
There’s no debating the impact LeBron and George will have, but for how long will they be willing to stay?