Kemba Walker, Lakers, Knicks, NBA, Trade, Rumors
Kemba Walker. (Photo: Getty Images)

The old Brooklyn Dodgers rallying cry of "wait 'til next year" has become the motto for the New York Knicks over the past 17 years. 

A poorly-run franchise mired in mediocrity has been to the playoffs just four times since the 2001-02 season. 

While there has been a constant turnover of the front office and roster, the team has been unable to build any sort of long-standing momentum in a weaker Eastern Conference. 

There is hope for the future with star big man Kristaps Porzingis, but his torn ACL now has understandably pessimistic fans of the franchise wondering just how much this will hamper his career. 


Still, the Knicks have some big future plans, which has been known for the better part of a month, per ESPN's Ian Begley

"The club wants to maintain cap space for the summer of 2019, when it projects to have significant money to spend on free agents. And New York adamantly wants to hold on to its 2018 first-round draft pick, which is viewed as a crucial part of its rebuild."

That first-round pick, which will be a lottery selection, could be the reason why the team was somewhat inactive during the period leading up to the NBA's trade deadline on Feb. 8. 

At the moment, the Knicks are slated to get the No. 9 pick in the 2018 draft, per where they are projected to take Miles Bridges out of Michigan State. 

That offers the team a low-cost chance at adding a key talent to the rebuilding effort that could be added as the centerpiece of the foundation that includes Porzingis. 

It also ensures the team holds onto some more money to re-sign the Latvian star, who will call for a hefty payday once he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2019. 

But Porzingis will be joined by a number of big names on the free-agent market that the Knicks could possibly pursue. Here is the list of players in a possibly loaded summer next year:

Tentative list of 2019 NBA free agents

LeBron James- Technically, he still has an opportunity to opt into the last year of his contract with the Cavaliers before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2019. All signs point to him going to the Los Angeles Lakers or staying with the Cavaliers this summer though. So even seeing LeBron available next year is a pipe dream.

Jimmy Butler- Has a player option following the 2018-19 season. He's expressed an interest in signing with the Knicks back in 2015. But that was when Carmelo Anthony, a player he recruited to join him in Minnesota, was still in New York. 

Klay Thompson- There's no reason as to why Thompson would want to leave a juggernaut like the Warriors. But should his demands prove too much, he might be forced to walk. Don't expect him to come to New York, though. He told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that he wants to play somewhere warm (h/t Daily News). 

Kevin Love- Love has been linked with the Knicks on the trade market for the better part of two years now, but his acquisition would be a confusing one considering Porzingis plays the 4, Love's position. 

Kyrie Irving- Irving has a player option following the 2018-19 season but given his success with the Celtics this season, there's no indication that he would want to leave considering he is the face of a successful franchise. But Irving is a New Jersey native and during his trade drama last summer, he admitted he wanted to be traded to the Knicks "very badly." Their interest in Irving though would have a lot to do with the development of Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay. Granted, it would be foolish to turn down a player of Irving's caliber should he express interest in signing. 

Kemba Walker- The Hornets looked to engage the Knicks in trade talks around the deadline concerning Walker, so it's doubtful they'll be a real threat to re-sign him in 2019. Walker is a Bronx native who would also provide a serious upgrade at the point guard position should Ntilikina and Mudiay struggle in New York. 


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