Could the Knicks shift focus from Kevin Durant to Kawhi Leonard? (Photo: Getty Images)
While the severity of Kevin Durant's Achilles injury is still unknown, so is one of the prospective marquee free-agency sweepstakes of the summer.
The Golden State Warriors star was expected to decline his $31.5 million option and become an unrestricted free agent on Jul. 1. However, an injury that could hold him out for the 2019-20 season could scare away some big players on the market that would have rewarded him with a max contract.
SNY's Ian Begley
reported on Wednesday that there are some within the Knicks organization that "would consider offering Durant a contract this summer." Even if he was shelved for an extended period.
It would be a sizable investment to offer a player with a known, serious injury seeing as the Knicks could offer the 30-year-old a max deal of four years worth $141 million.
Durant has been seen as New York's main target for the past year. A player of his caliber would provide the mediocre franchise with the NBA's worst record in 2018-19 with a quick way to get out of the Eastern Conference's cellar.
It's been an excruciating month for such high hopes as 17 wins only got the Knicks the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, meaning they'll miss out on Zion Williamson, before seeing Durant go down in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday night.
Considering the Knicks have two max-salary roster spots available, they will still have a chance to bring on another superstar that could play right away.
It will be a tough sell, however, for a player like Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard to join the Knicks when they know a year of contention would be lost if Durant was out for 2019-20.
While Irving has been linked with the Knicks for just as long as Durant, Begley added that New York will "aggressively pursue" Leonard this summer as well.
There also is a chance that the Knicks could pull off a trade for New Orleans Pelicans center Anthony Davis, who is expected to be traded this summer.
Multiple reports have the Knicks as one of the favorites along with the Los Angeles Lakers for the six-time All-Star. Many believe New York could offer the best trade package, including assets like Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, the rights to RJ Barrett, and draft picks.
With Davis set to hit free agency next summer, securing him would also take up a max-salary slot. That means the Knicks have some options outside of Durant should this injury scare them away.