The New York Knicks have been long rumored as a favorite to sign upcoming free agent Kyrie Irving, yet after a recent indication to want to stay in Boston, the Knicks must alter their summer plans.
Kyrie Irving has the ability to fill a hole the Knicks clearly need, a consistent starting point guard. With a presence that draws defenders every time he has the ball, Irving would help space the floor and modernize the New York Knicks mediocre offense. Yet while Irving could have been a potential building block in the organization’s rebuild, his indication to potentially stay in Boston could force New York to look at options to help the Knicks develop into contenders.
The Knicks seem to truly have promise on the current roster, and this hope can be attributed to a change in strategy. The team has fully committed to player development, spending their available funds on one-year contracts with underwhelming prospects who may still have the potential to improve, as opposed to long-term commitments to veterans removed from their prime.
Kyrie Irving will be twenty-seven when the Knicks could have first signed him to the roster, and while his age may be close enough to the timeline of the team’s young prospects, his injury history makes a long-term pact risky. With Irving presumably off the market, the team should focus on acquiring talent that carries less of a financial commitment.
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The Knicks will likely have the flexibility to make a number of moves next summer. While the front office has preached the importance of avoiding shortcuts, the Knicks will have a legitimate reason to invest in available talent, as an expected healthy Porzingis gives the team legitimate playoff aspirations. Here are five potential options for the Knicks that provide possible upside, yet will not become detrimental to the team’s available cap space if the acquisition does not produce.
5. Goran Dragic
Without a point guard of Kyrie Irving’s talent on the free agent market, Goran Dragic could be the most talented potential fit for the Knicks. Dragic is an effective pick and roll initiator, as well as a capable three-point shooter. While Dragic has a player option for the 2019 season, a potential opt-out should force the Knicks to take a look at the former all-star.
4. Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton’s free agency stock will rest solely on his production in the upcoming season. After signing a one year contract with the Pelicans, in which they essentially told Payton to prove his value as a former lottery selection, Payton will need to show sizable advancements in his game to earn a contract next summer. If Payton can display an improved jumper, as well as a decreased turnover rate, he could be a less expensive option for the Knicks.
3. Darren Collison
After a surprising playoff run, many would point to the breakout season of Pacers star Victor Oladipo as the force behind the unexpected season. Oladipo’s offensive transformation led to a lack of praise for the team’s other impactful guard. Darren Collison is an elite three-point shooter, as well as a willing attacker in transition despite an undersized frame. If Collison is inclined to leave a favorable position in Indiana, the Knicks should be interested.
2. Eric Bledsoe
A combo guard who can draw pressure away from teammates with his offensive tenacity, Eric Bledsoe could help the Knicks ease Porzingis back into the offense. Bledsoe brings high energy on both sides of the basketball and could provide veteran guidance to the Knicks’ young locker room.
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
After a breakout season with New York’s other basketball team last season, Spencer Dinwiddie proved to be a smart decision maker as he set up teammates efficiently without turning over the ball. Dinwiddie’s pass-first mentality could be ideal for the Knicks, as they look to get their young stars involved offensively. Dinwiddie seems to be enjoying his time in New York, and the right contract may convince the floor general to join the orange and blue.
The free agent point guard class of 2019 looks to have a range of enticing options, and the Knicks should not be deterred by their top target opting to stay put. If anything, it may be a blessing in disguise.