Although rumors swirl of high-profile free agents considering the New York Knicks, plenty of work needs to be done to land a superstar.
Expectations are fairly low within the New York Knicks fan base for the 2018-19 season. With franchise centerpiece Kristaps Porzingis on the mend for a large chunk of the season and a roster in the middle of a rebuilding process, the Knicks are far from being a contender, even in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Many fans, however, see the summer of 2019 as the time the Knicks will complete their rebuild and turn the team into a contender in the East.
With most of the high-profile 2018 free agents already signed, rumors of the top 2019 free agents heading to a young Knicks squad have already emerged.
There’s reason to be excited for 2019 free agency in New York. If the Knicks can land one or more of Irving, Butler, Klay Thompson, or any of the other major free agents needing to the be signed, they could pretty quickly become a top-three team in the East.
In addition to this, members of the front office have made it clear that the goal of this summer has been to sign players to short-term deals in order for the franchise to have money to spend toward a max-contract free agent next July.
In an interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN radio in June, Knicks President Steve Mills spoke on the front office’s plan for the 2018 and 2019 free agency periods.
"“Our goal is to get our house in order, develop the foundation, and we are not going to be players this year. If we sign guys it’s going to be for a one-year deal because we are going to have room for a max-contract the following year.”"
Pairing one or two more All-Stars with a healthy Porzingis, and rising young players such as Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina, could turn the Knicks into a contender for a conference title in 2019-2020.
Even if the rumors are true, a lot of work still is to be done to bring a star or to New York.
If done right, the 2018-19 season could be used to make New York one of the most attractive free agent destinations entering next summer. The top priority should be not rushing Porzingis back from the ACL tear he suffered in February.
Nothing will make New York a more interesting destination than seeing the Latvian star return to full form by the end of next season.
While Porzingis is recovering, developing a good young core of Ntilikina, Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Damyean Dotson will also assure free agents that the Knicks are a franchise trending in the right direction.
Finally, the Knicks can set themselves up for success next summer by clearing some cap space. Moving Joakim Noah or Courtney Lee wouldn’t be easy, but it would give the front office more flexibility to bring new talent to the roster.
Even if Porzingis returns to his All-Star form, the young core proves to have a bright future, and the front office can free up some more money to spend next summer, success in next summer’s free agent market is far from guaranteed.
The Knicks won’t be the only enticing free agency destination with cap space next summer, as other teams in the Eastern Conference will be major buyers as well.
The Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers are both good, young playoff teams that will have loads of cap space to utilize next summer if they choose to do so. In addition to these two, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets have set themselves up to have one of the clearest cap sheets in the NBA in 2019.
Those are only some of the teams within the Eastern Conference. The Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and other teams out West all can chase after top free-agents next summer, as well.
As the New York Knicks enter a year which will most likely produce a lottery selection in the 2019 NBA Draft, it’s easy to become enamored by rumors surrounding next summer’s free agent class.
But success, especially in free agency, is never guaranteed in the NBA. The Knicks will have to utilize the 2018-19 season to set themselves up to land a superstar in next summer’s free agency period.
If the New York Knicks can land a superstar to place alongside Porzingis, the summer of 2019 could mark the end of the rebuild in New York.