Does it make sense for the New York Knicks to go after Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler as a package deal?
Despite a slow part in the summer, NBA content is still a hot topic for the New York Knicks and the league.
ESPN conducted a survey on the 2019 free agency class. The survey was conducted by ESPN experts to determine where some marquee free agent will land. According to the survey the Knicks are favored to signed both Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving and Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Jimmy Butler.
Currently the Knicks do not have the cap space to afford one max free agent. While not impossible, it would take some major deal making in order for the Knicks to acquire both Irving and Butler.
Deals that would have to include either young players currently on the roster, or future assets such as first-round picks. This upcoming offseason is the most important time in Knicks history since they acquired Carmelo Anthony back in 2011, so let’s see what it would take to have Irving, or Butler, or even both on the roaster.
Come 2019 Irving will enter his ninth NBA season. Despite playing almost a decade in the league, Irving won’t turn 28 until March 2020.
Squarely in his prime, Irving is one of the elite players in the game. Despite never playing a full 82-game season, Irving is a career 22 points per game scorer and shoots over 40 percent from the 3-point-line three of the last four seasons. Let’s not forget that he can also do this.
For the Knicks to acquire Irving’s services, the team would need to renounce the rights to every free agent they have, make Kristaps Porzingis a restricted free agent, and use the waive-stretch provision on embattled center Joakim Noah.
Even if the Knicks are able to get the $32 million in cap space they need, it’s still unclear if Irving is willing to leavan a estimated $40 million on the table from the Boston Celtics.
Irving has never flowed the trend when it came to his NBA career. He thought about leaving Cleveland after they had won the NBA finals, but later changed his mind. When he discovered the Cavaliers were exploring his trade value, he threaten to have knee surgery and miss the entire season. Could Irving leave the money and a ready-made dynasty on the line just to play for his hometown team?
Butler recently turned down a $100-million-dollar extension from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason. The move isn’t all too surprising as Butler can sign a max contract extension with the Wolves for five years, $188 million during the 2019 offseason.
While Minnesota has the advantage of giving Butler more money, reports are that Butler is frustrated with the younger players on the roaster.
"Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t."
Butler is simply tired of both players’ nonchalant attitude towards the game. For a player who is entering his age 30-season, he has little time to waste teaching players how to play the game the right way. Could Butler leave the Wolves in order to resurrect Knick fans championship dreams?
Assuming the Knicks are able to clear enough cap room, signing both players will still come with some risk. Irving has missed at least 10 games every season he has played in the NBA, including multiple surgeries on his knee. Irving could make more money and possibly win multiple championships during his time in Boston.
Even if Irving is willing to leave the money on the table, the Knicks should question if his knees will hold up into his 30s.
While Butler is a elite defender and can guard multiple positions, he’s gone though the Tom Thibodeau workout plan, leaving all NBA players without any workable knees. The Knicks are still trying to wipe off the ashes from the last Thibodeau disciple they decided to pay.
While Knicks fans are starving for any sort of relevance, signing two players who have a history of leg injuries is too much of a risk for a franchise to take. With one of these players on the team the Knicks can raise to a top four seed in the conference, but, not good enough to over take either Boston or Philadelphia.
If either Kevin Knox or Frank Ntilikina turn into a complementary star alongside Prozingis, than the idea of signing both players becomes mute. It makes more sense to sign Irving then Butler. Irving is younger, a better player, and a better fit with the team.
A line-up of Irving-Ntilikina-Knox-Prozingis-Robinson would not only have a capable of scoring the ball from anywhere on the floor; but, also having defenders able to switch all across the board.
Irving did list the Knicks as one of his destinations during the 2017 offseason. It’s up to the Knicks to make him come to play in Madison Square Garden.