New York Knicks: Steve Mills is already aware of free agent interest

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

New York Knicks president Steve Mills addressed the notion of players wanting to join the team in the anticipated 2019 free agency.

New York Knicks owner James Dolan’s comments on players’ desire to sign with the team raised eyebrows. Rarely does an organization executive make that public statement, and it happened after the Kristaps Porzingis trade, which moved to the cap space for 2019 free agency to approximately $70 million.

With enough to sign two max contracts, it put the Knicks into the mix for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — with reports linking them to the Big Apple for most of the season — Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker and Jimmy Butler.

To only increase the notion that New York has a plan, president Steve Mills expressed confidence to Marc Berman of the New York Post. He said there are “a lot of guys interested in New York,” before the playoffs — which all but Walker are in — end.

"“We’re hopeful and we’re excited,’’ Mills said. “We’re excited because now we’re in position. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of guys are interested in New York. They like Fiz. They like some of the changes we made in the organization. We hear that from agents. We read it from guys getting interviewed about what guys feel about the Knicks. We hear that from other players. At least we’re in the game, and hopeful something really good happens. But we won’t know until it happens."

It is noteworthy and, like Dolan, it is unusual for a front office executive to comment on outside interest before the offseason arrives.

Where this is smoke, fire usually exists, and Mills only increased that with what he heard.

However, Mills added, they will stick to “our plan” if “things don’t happen in free agency.” Potentially, that means continuing the slow build of youth and developing those in place, including Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox.

The time is near for learning New York’s free-agency fate. July 1 starts the hoopla, but there is basketball to play in the time gap. Durant has the Golden State Warriors eyeing a third NBA Championship and Irving’s Boston Celtics have a commanding lead in the first round. Both could meet in the NBA Finals and make this future Knicks situation even more interesting.

If that happens, will Durant and Irving remain with their respective teams into 2019-20 and impact New York’s plans? Who are the next free-agent targets up after them?

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Either way, the New York Knicks created an advantageous situation. They have ample cap space, a city to sell and a wide-open team, despite the 17-65 record. Whichever big name signs can make this team their own and carry it into the next decade and remake New York basketball.