The original offseason plans of the New York Knicks already look dead in the water and we haven’t even come close to the thick of the NBA’s offseason action.
Now it’s time for president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to adapt.
Just days after the completion of the NBA Finals — and with two weeks until the start of free agency on Jul. 1 — two of the biggest names linked with the Knicks are on different paths now.
The New Orleans Pelicans sent the basketball world into a frenzy on Saturday night by trading superstar center Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers.
In return, New Orleans continued to add to their war chest of young assets by picking up Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round draft picks.
The 26-year-old, considered by many to be the best center in the NBA, will be a free agent following the 2019-20 season. His declaration that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Pelicans in February is what set the trade rumor mill ablaze for most of the past four months.
While the Pelicans had the power to trade him where they so pleased, looming free agency gave Davis the power to help dictate where he’d end up.
New Orleans haul was only going to be a good one if Davis would be willing to re-sign with the trade partner.
The Knicks were one of the teams Davis reportedly said he would re-sign with, along with the Lakers.
Los Angeles might have done the Knicks a favor, however, seeing as New York can hold onto its No. 3 pick in the draft with a clear path to Duke’s RJ Barrett.
It also allows the Knicks to keep both max-salary slots open for free agents while retaining some of its more promising talents. In a hypothetical deal for Davis, the Knicks would have had to part ways with the likes of center Mitchell Robinson and forward Kevin Knox.
It remains to be seen how the Knicks are going to allocate those two max-salary slots. For most of the past year, the belief was that they would be able to bring on Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
That might not be the case anymore.
Durant ruptured his Achilles during the NBA FInals and will likely miss the entire 2019-20 season which makes a max salary a risky investment.
Irving, on the other hand, is preparing to come to the Big Apple, but with the Brooklyn Nets.
A compilation prize for the point guard position, Kemba Walker, made it known last week that his top priority is to remain with the Charlotte Hornets.
The market for a point guard — a position that has plagued the Knicks for years — is less than ideal after Irving and Walker as Ricky Rubio, Patrick Beverley, and Darren Collison headline the unrestricted free-agent class.
But Irving potentially joining the Nets presents the Knicks with an opportunity to acquire a much more promising option.
D’Angelo Russell would likely leave Brooklyn if Irving arrives, though his status is up in the air. The 23-year-old All-Star is currently a restricted free agent but could become an unrestricted one if the Nets renounce his rights to go after another max-salary free agent.
The Knicks would probably have to use one of their max-salary slots on Russell, but they’d be picking up a developing talent that averaged 21.1 points and seven assists per game last season.
Russell fits the theme of a Knicks team that would be rebuilt through the development of its youthful talent. Though the second max-salary slot could be used to bring in a proven veteran to provide the franchise with a bona fide leader to help them move toward contention in the Eastern Conference.