Knicks Lead

How Game 5 Alters New York’s Offseason Plans

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In a season where the Knicks have been seemingly non-competitive since tip off on opening night, it is incredible to see just how much they have hanging in the balance in the middle of June. This upcoming offseason was supposed to be the time for the Knicks to emerge from the NBA’s deep dark abyss and ascend into being a serious championship competitor. That all may have changed last night.

As many of you saw with just under ten minutes remaining in the second quarter, Kevin Durant slowly fell to the ground favoring his lower right leg. He would leave the game and it is believed that Durant suffered a significant Achilles injury.

 

If we thought the storylines during the NBA finals were insane, this situation is only going to lead to even more storylines and things to watch with this upcoming offseason. Prior to this injury, Durant was seen as the far and ahead most coveted free agent in the upcoming class. This injury however, will sideline Durant for the rest of these Finals as well as most likely all of next season. This means that any team that was looking to sign Durant will have to pay for an entire year of him recovering on the sidelines. Where all of this gets even more cloudy is the fact that Durant is not an unrestricted free agent– he still holds a $31.5 million player option for next season.

High League Interest in KD Remains

With Stephen A Smith saying at one point that Durant was “95% going to be a Knick next season,” along with a multitude of other sources and people close to Durant giving their input on the situation, KD was essentially a Knick already. It is also being reported that several teams — including the Knicks — would still be willing to sign Durant even with him having to recover for a year. While teams may still be interested in signing Durant this offseason, it only makes perfect sense for him to exercise his player option, making us go through all of this free agency hype again next summer. From this assumption, what does this mean for the New York Knicks?

This is going to be a blessing in disguise for the Knicks. Let’s face it, the Knicks’ roster as it stands now has no shot to contend next year. The organization was hoping and praying that not one, but two max free agents would come and turn them into an immediate contender. This being the case, Game 5 awarded the Knicks a free year of building again. If Durant exercises his player option, he will be a free agent in the summer of 2020, when the Knicks can maneuver their salary cap space to be in a perfect space to sign him then.

Along with Durant, the Knicks have been linked to Anthony Davis as well.

A deal for Anthony Davis would strip New York’s roster all of their assets, leaving them to return with a totally revamped roster centered around Davis. This was a dream scenario for the Knicks, as they would have been able to assemble a super team by trading for Davis, then signing Durant and possibly another max free agent. Their focus should now be shifted towards yet another year of building and asset collection. This begins with drafting and developing R.J. Barrett out of Duke.

Continuing Core Development

With Barrett joining the young core of guys like Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson, the roster should be focused on developing these guys for another year. They most likely will continue to be in “asset collection mode” and become a bad-contract wasteland. Taking on bad contracts will bring along other young players as well as more draft capital for the future. If the Knicks can develop their already young core, acquire a few more picks and maybe even a promising young player or two, they will be in prime position to sign any player they want as well as having enough assets to make a very appealing trade package for whoever they desire in the summer of 2020. A summer in which Kevin Durant will then, most likely, be an unrestricted free agent.

Is He Worth The Risk Now?

Another route the Knicks can take would be by securing Durant now, before another organization opens up as appealing for Durant in 2020.  While this may seem ludicrous to sign a guy to a max deal knowing that one of those years will be completely wasted money, a player of Durant’s caliber might just be worth that loss.

As mentioned, the Knicks have mutual interest in Anthony Davis and if they choose to still sign Durant, trading for Davis makes very little sense. Davis, a having a player option after next season, would only make sense for the Knicks if in trading for him, he assured them that he would commit long term with the organization when the time comes. Situations like this are very rocky however, as we see in Boston. Kyrie Irving told the team earlier in the year that he was going to re-sign and now when the time has come about, he seems to have one foot out the door.

The Knicks can also choose to forget about Durant, sign two other max free agents, then choose to trade for Davis or not and try and go for a championship in this upcoming season. This option would allow the Knicks to be competitive next season, even without their main target.

A new regime in the Knicks front office is now faced with a pivotal situation that, yet again, could make or break them for years to come.

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