At the start of the 2018–19 NBA season, the New York Knicks had three main objectives in mind. The first two were to land Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as all of their roster maneuvers for the last two seasons set them up for a big splash in free agency. The third was landing the No. 1 pick and drafting college sensation Zion Williamson.
None of those things came true. After roughly three hours of free agency, Durant and Irving both signed with the Brooklyn Nets. Plus, the Knicks ended up with the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA draft and selected R.J. Barrett.
To say fans were disappointed is an understatement. The Knicks haven’t won a playoff series since 2012-13 so today we will look at what it will take for them to win another one after having the worst record in 2018.
Why the Knicks didn’t sign Kevin Durant
For months it was widely believed that Kevin Durant was headed to the Knicks. However, last night on ESPN’s The Jump, NBA Insider Ramona Shelburne explained why the Knicks couldn’t land the two time NBA Finals MVP. According to Shelburne, the Knicks were not willing to offer Kevin Durant a maximum salary due to his ruptured Achilles injury.
This could stem from the last time they offered a player a maximum deal. It was with Amare Stoudemire, and injuries plagued his entire time in New York.
It’s safe to say that if the Knicks and owner James Dolan had offered Durant a max contract, he would be wearing a Knicks jersey right now.
Trading away Porzingis looks like a horrible move
When the Knicks traded former No. 4 overall pick Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks, it was again because they did not want to offer him a maximum contract after he suffered a torn ACL.
They moved enough pieces to open up cap space to sign a big-time free agent. With Dallas offering the “Unicorn” a five-year max deal, New York now has a roster with no legitimate No. 1 option to score or lead the team.
What are some moves that can still salvage the Knicks’ season?
So after making enough moves to open up two maximum slots, what will New York do with the money? Their biggest acquisition so far has been Julius Randle, who signed a fully guaranteed three-year deal worth $63 million. Randle is a very good player, but he does have limitations, mainly his size.
He averaged 21 points and eight rebounds per game for the Pelicans last year, but you don’t want to pay a player at that much money if they aren’t capable of carrying your team to the first or second round of the playoffs.
They also signed veteran forward Taj Gibson to a two-year deal worth $20 million. These moves aren’t getting fans in the seats or driving up revenue. These moves are simply keeping the Knicks in the lottery discussion for the next few seasons.
How will the Knicks do in 2019–20?
After failing to sign any big-name free agents in 2019, how good will New York be next season? The pick up of Randle could be a good one in the long term, if another big-time player next off-season. However, this year we expect them to win between 20 and 25 games and look at another top-five pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
It may help them if they tank for the next two seasons as the 2021 NBA Draft class will be one of the greatest in recent memory. Be sure to check out our NBA section as free agency continues to heat up with the next set of dominoes to fall.