With his free agency looming and a supposed interest in the New York Knicks, what exactly would it take to bring Kyrie Irving to The Mecca?
Speculation began to brew this past Tuesday when Marc Stein of The New York Times wrote in his newsletter that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has given zero indication as to whether or not he’ll re-sign with the Boston Celtics when he becomes a free agent next summer.
Coupled with that is the rumor that the New York Knicks will attempt to pry him away from Beantown in the hopes of getting him to don the orange and blue for the foreseeable future.
For even the most casual of Knicks fans, the mere rumor that a player with the cache of Irving will consider New York to be his next home is as exciting as any news that’s emerged over the last few seasons.
However, there’s obviously no guarantee that Irving will be playing at Madison Square Garden next season. After all, his current team is projected to make the NBA Finals with stellar teammates, an elite head coach, and a fan base that loves their team more than life itself.
For the Knicks, the pitch to Irving won’t just be made during a possible meeting next July. Rather, it will occur over the course of the 2018-19 season, as well.
In order to get Irving to leave his current team, the Knicks can’t simply sell the five-time All-Star on the allure of playing at MSG, nor the opportunities present in the great city of New York. That tactic has been used with prior big-name free agents and it’s failed every time.
Irving needs to know the Knicks will compete at a high level the moment he signs on the dotted line. Anything less isn’t enough for a guy who’s been to the mountaintop.
This isn’t to say that he should be walking into a ready-made situation to dethrone the Golden State Warriors, but it means having a foundation in place where a light is visible at the end of the tunnel.
This is where this upcoming season is so crucial.
While it would obviously be a tremendous help to their chances if the Knicks were to qualify for the playoffs, given the injury to Kristaps Porzingis and the uncertainty of his return, such an event seems highly unlikely.
What the team needs to do is show the potential and room for growth that would make a superstar believe special days are on the road ahead.
It doesn’t have to be manifested in wins or awards, but if Frank Ntilikina can show improvements on the offensive end, and Kevin Knox can translate his Summer League play to the NBA, it would show Irving that the cupboard isn’t barren.
Remember: The Los Angeles Lakers won 35 games in 2018, but wound up signing LeBron James in free agency—due in large part to the combination of cap flexibility and an intriguing young core.
Looking at their cap space, the New York Knicks will have plenty to spend in the coming offseasons. If their youngsters can intrigue the likes of Uncle Drew with their play, a homecoming of sorts might not be so far fetched.