Knicks Rumors: Pending second-tier free agents being scouted in playoffs

Scott Perry, New York Knicks (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images)
Scott Perry, New York Knicks (Photo by Matteo Marchi/Getty Images) /

According to the New York Post, the New York Knicks have sent scouts to watch pending free agents in the postseason — an unusual move for any team.

The conversation around the New York Knicks 2019 offseason started during 2018 free agency. There was a long prelude — the 2018-19 regular season — that separated them, but with the schedule completed nearly one month ago, the focus has shifted to the anticipated summer.

Transactions can’t happen until June, and free agency does not open until July 1. However, the Knicks have continued their attention on the latter well before it arrives, as per Marc Berman of the New York Post, general manager Scott Perry sent out scouts to watch impending free agents playing in the postseason in both rounds.

Berman added, this is unusual for an NBA team. Playoff teams are usually scouting for their next opponent now — not a situation like the Knicks analyzing future free agents.

Interestingly enough, it’s not Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler, but the next group of players in the upcoming class:

"The Knicks scouting has not focused on the so-called “max” free agents but second-tier ones — for example, Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic — and role players — such as Indiana’s Wesley Matthews, whom the Knicks still have their eye on despite buying him out in February and allowing him to go and play for a contender."

New York’s strategy is unique, but it’s as much due diligence as possible ahead of the offseason. It can make or break who they offer expensive contracts to if the Durant and Irving rumors fall apart. While none of those second-tier players are the superstars, they still impact the game enough to at least make part of a team’s core.

This can also apply towards just one of Durant or Irving signing with the Knicks. Both have ongoing playoff situations that could result in a championship, but that has not stopped the rumors all year long, especially as the Golden State Warriors as their third consecutive title.

As for Berman’s aforementioned players, Khris Middleton has grown into the second option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. Often overlooked due to this, three of Middleton’s past four seasons have featured averages of at least 18 points per game.

Tobias Harris, a Long Island native, was traded to the 76ers midseason. He plays for a talented group, but with Jimmy Butler also on an expiring deal, can Philadelphia general manager Elton Brand retain the players around Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid?

Wesley Matthews, however, is the most interesting name of that group. The Knicks bought him out days after arriving in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, finishing the season in Indiana. He will be 33 years old to open the 2019-20 campaign and is probably not a second-tier player at this point, but can still provide the backcourt outside shooting New York sorely missed.

Next. 2019 NBA Mock Draft as lottery nears. dark

The Knicks have taken free agency seriously, with their abundance of cap space towards one of the open market’s greatest classes. Soon, attention turns towards whether they walk out a “winner.”