New York Knicks: A guide to free agency’s Plan B

New York Knicks Steve Mills (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Steve Mills (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have clearly established themselves as major players in the upcoming free agency pool. Yet what if the team strikes out on landing a top tier target?

The New York Knicks undoubtedly plan to go big in this summer free agency. They will go into the summer with the financial flexibility to offer max contracts to two of the summer’s stars, and it appears likely that those offers will initially go to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

Irving, a tri-state native who appears dissatisfied with his current Boston Celtics squad, would provide a fix at the starting point guard spot the Knicks have lacked for the last decade. Durant, an unfulfilled champion with business ties to New York, would be given an opportunity to earn back the love of NBA fans while assuming the spot as the face of the franchise following Kristaps Porzingis trade request.

It all seems to make sense for both the Knicks and their presumed targets. The Knicks return to relevance while two NBA superstars who don’t appear content with being solely defined by basketball utilize the New York market to dictate their own respective images. Yet what if it doesn’t happen. What seems like predetermined destiny becomes another chapter in what feels like the Knicks’ determination to be a mediocre franchise.

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As crazy as it may sound, the key for the Knicks to escape their status as bottom dwellers is to continue the current path. The current front office has embraced player development and untapped potential over expired veterans and expensive contracts. The Knicks understand that being terrible is better than being bad, and if the team fails to secure an all-star caliber free agent they must be prepared to endure another season of losing for a better future.

The Knicks have made progress towards reestablishing the franchise as an attractive free agent destination and failing to land a max free agent this summer does not change that. This means that the team must accept that they do not need to be spenders simply because they have the ability to do so.

The current roster is littered with lottery picks who have been given up on by other teams, and finding similar players in this summer’s free agent class should be plan B. By signing players who may have untapped potential to one year “prove it” deals, the Knicks retain the cap space to go after top free agents once again in the summer of 2020, while adding players with low risk and high reward.

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The Knicks current front office has been willing to learn from the mistakes of those before them and preserve the team’s cap space for those who truly deserve it. Yet the temptations of competing for a postseason spot in the weak Eastern Conference is undoubtedly tempting. The franchise will undoubtedly find a way to let fans down this summer in classic Knicks fashion, yet wasting cap space on second-tier free agents such as Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler would be a bigger mistake then simply sitting out on free agency altogether.