If the New York Knicks strike out on free agency’s top stars, what are their options afterward?
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, the New York Knicks, despite their in-year struggles, seemed poised as frontrunner for players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency. With over $70 million in cap space, both can sign maximum contracts to call Madison Square Garden their new home.
However, the offseason is often unpredictable, and speculation will continue on Durant signing elsewhere, Irving potentially choosing the other New York team and Kemba Walker potentially staying in Charlotte.
These scenarios are realistic, which makes New York’s guarantees at prosperity, perhaps, slimmer than expected.
If they miss on these players, a follow-up plan is necessary, and there are a few routes for the front offices to take:
5. Offer one-year contracts and try again in 2020
The old “wait ’til next year” line applies here, as the New York Knicks can wait until 2020 to sign higher-profile free agents. It is a risk and creates another year of waiting, but if they avoid the trade market, this is a logical step.
The 2020 class is headlined by Anthony Davis, who sits in a similar position to Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors now. He will move to another team via trade, but on an expiring contract, leaving his new organization in limbo, while taking a chance on keeping him.
After Davis, the talent level drops off. Aging talents like Kyle Lowry, Al Horford and Paul Millsap will hit the market. Draymond Green is a projected free agent, but him not staying with a Warriors core of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson would surprise.
If the Knicks want to wait for those players and not dish money to leftover free agents now, they can hand out one-year deals to middle-of-the-market players or near the bottom, similar to the Mario Hezonja contract in 2018. Of course, with the anticipation of this offseason, that won’t satisfy the Knicks fans clamoring for a free-agent gold mine.
However, staying cautious and waiting for next year is reasonable if everything else falls apart, which likely means another postseason-less spring and 82 more games of hardship.