The New York Knicks’ convoluted 2018-19 season ultimately ended with what they probably wanted most: a strong shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft. We say convoluted because New York didn’t exactly accomplish much else this year, what with the way they went about developing their young core (they even traded away their best young player, Kristaps Porzingis, midway through the season) and how they seemed to aimlessly lose as many games as possible. Of course, if they actually do end up with top overall pick for 2019 and a shot at Zion Williamson, they won’t care much about how they got it.
Also going for New York is the fact that they are heading into the offseason with a lot of buzz surrounding them regarding some of the top impending free agents. We’ll see if that buzz turns into anything else this summer, but it could be a wildly impressive offseason for the Knicks if things actually go according to plan.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Frank Ntilikina: $4,855,800
Dennis Smith Jr: $4,463,640
Kevin Knox: $4,385,640
Mitchell Robinson: $1,559,712
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Lance Thomas: $7,583,975
John Jenkins: $1,988,119
Henry Ellenson: $1,645,357
Damyean Dotson: $1,618,520
Allonzo Trier: $3,551,100
Billy Garrett: $1,643,842
Emmanuel Mudiay: Restricted
Luke Kornet: Restricted
The Knicks’ top offseason goal this summer has to be to use their enormous amount of cap space to sign two max-level free agents. Two of the names they have been most closely tied to as we approach the 2019 postseason are Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. If anything, it sounds like Durant’s a likelier bet for the Knicks than Irving, though it’s impossible to rule out anything in regards to either player’s impending free agency. On the other hand, if a worst-case scenario goes down and the Knicks miss on both guys, management should choose frugality and not just hand out max deals to the first two borderline All-Stars who will take them. Besides that, New York will look to take the best player available in the upcoming draft, something that shouldn’t be too difficult with a pick that won’t fall below No. 5 overall.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Kevin Durant: Undoubtedly the Knicks’ top target. There’s been a lot of positive buzz regarding Durant’s interest in joining New York this summer.
Kyrie Irving: The smoke isn’t quite as heavy as it was at one point earlier in the season, when the Boston Celtics were struggling for positive results, but some still exists tying Irving to the Knicks.
Jimmy Butler: His fit with the Philadelphia 76ers hasn’t been perfect due to having to share the ball so much, leading some to speculate he could be on his way out this offseason. If New York misses on one of either Durant or Irving, going after Butler with their other max slot could happen if the Knicks talk themselves into the four-time All-Star as a solid Plan B.
Tobias Harris: It may be tough for Philadelphia to re-sign both Butler and Harris if they want to this offseason. As was the case with Butler, Harris would be a good complementary target for New York if they land just one of Durant or Irving.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Discussing trade targets for the Knicks is an impossible exercise considering their offseason could go many different ways. They could strike gold with their two top targets, which would force them to attack the trade market for cheap role players to fill out the rest of the roster, or they could instead strike out in free agency, in which case their best course of action may be to save their cap space, hand out one-year deals and keep quiet on the trade market. It’s not like many (or any) max-level superstars in peak form are being shopped by their current teams.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
By clinching the worst record in the league, the Knicks gave themselves a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the draft and a potentially franchise-changing talent. No matter what, their pick won’t fall further than fifth.