NBA: Realistic Options for the Knicks this summer

The New York Knicks took their future by the scruff of the neck in this past week, in what was a wild week in the league they traded their franchise player Kristaps Porzingis.

Still rehabbing from a torn ACL, Porzingis was traded to the Dallas Mavericks with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke. In return they received Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first round picks.

Bar one great year from Carmelo Anthony where they made the second round, the Knicks have been dwelling in the Eastern Conference cellar for around 20 years now. They have had only one 50-win season since the turn of the century.

The Porzingis deal though maligned by many, has given them a bite at securing some top free agents this coming summer.

Preparing for the Summer

By moving Hardaway and Lee they were able to get off almost $60 million in future salary. Though moving Porzingis was a controversial move he was likely to miss the rest of this season and then still require a large pay day after being out for almost 18 months. Both DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews contracts are expiring this year, so they didn’t bring back any long-term money.

As the Knicks have fully embraced tanking this year they have a real chance at the probable number one pick Zion Williamson. They also have two other future first rounders plus number the ninth overall pick in the 2017 draft Dennis Smith Jr. on their books now who has two more years on his rookie deal.

The Knicks books for next year now have around $66 – 70 million in cap room dependent on which of their free agents they decide to keep.

That means they can now target 2 max free agents with this cap space.

The Big Fish

Kevin Durant is the prize on this summer’s free agent market, Durant is having another great season and has shown no sign of aging. He is one of the most lethal and consistent scores in the game while his defence has improved the last 2 years.

Durant will presumably win a third ring in a row this year with the Warriors. After cementing his place in NBA history Durant will be free to join a rebuilding team and take them to new championship heights. The Nets and the Knicks beckon as two teams that he can do this with.

The Knicks can offer him a four year max and the big market that, like the Bay Area he has loved so much over the last 3 years. Many sources are already predicting Durant will sign with the Knicks.

Kyrie Irving is another potential suitor for the Knicks. Irving in the last week has made noise about his July 1 free agency that would make the Celtics very nervous.

It is looking likely now that he will leave the Celtics for greener pastures. Alongside Durant, the Knicks would have a one-two punch not rivaled by many in the league. The team would roll out the red carpet for one of the best point guards in the league.

Kyrie is in the midst of having the best season of his career and at only 26 the Knicks would get great value on a 4-year deal if he were to sign on the dotted line.

Consolation Prizes

Kemba Walker is the next possibility for the Knicks. Walker is coming off his best scoring year to date, he is only 28 so his peak is also in line with a 4-year deal that the Knicks could offer. Kemba is also from New York so the ties to home could be a strong factor if the Knicks decide to make a play for him. Pairing Durant with Kemba would be a nice fit for the Knicks.

Though Smith Jr. is on the Knicks roster now, it doesn’t mean that they can’t target another point guard in free agency. Smiths development of his shot is very important for his career, a great athlete in several ways he needs to work on his overall offense if he wants to be a starting point guard on a playoff team.

If an elite scorer is top of the Knicks summer wish list, then an A+ defender would be next on the list.

Jimmy Butler is the type of 2-way player that championship contenders crave. Jimmy can lock down the oppositions best player while also being able to create his own shot and shots for others. He is a free agent this offseason and though Philadelphia can offer him a 5-year deal that other teams can’t.

The Knicks roster doesn’t have any elite shooting currently and if they wanted to contend, another elite shooter alongside a Durant or Walker would be key.

Role Players

JJ Redick would be the perfect target for the Knicks this offseason, at 34 he is having his best scoring season and would be a strong mentor for the young Knicks rookies. JJ doesn’t always require the ball to be effective and is one of the best catch and shoot players in the league. If the Knicks couldn’t acquire a second max player, then 2 players of his caliber would be perfect for them

Nikola Mirotic could be another strong floor stretching option for the Knicks. At 27 he has been having the best season of his career for the Pelicans. A strong 3-point shooter off the catch and the dribble, Mirotic is a great rebounder who can defend his position well. In the event they had cap space left after signing a star or two, Mirotic would be an excellent 3rd or 4th option.

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