Knicks Eyeing DeMarcus Cousins as Free Agency Nears
This week was a relevant one for the New York Knicks. As of Wednesday, Kevin Durant officially declined his player option, which means he will be an unrestricted free agent next season. This comes as no surprise, as such an expectation was speculated all summer. What’s more pressing is that the Knicks are considering pursing DeMarcus Cousins if they cannot land Durant or another All-Star. Doing so would counter everything that the team has claimed to be doing for the future.
A New Culture?
Part of rebuilding this Knicks roster has come with the prospect of rebuilding the culture. What that means is that New York basketball has been saturated with poor decision making. New York has a tendency to pursue injury prone players who will do nothing more than collect a paycheck. Doing so in the past has cost the team victory season after season. With hitting the reset button, the idea was to turn away from such a problematic past and embrace a better tomorrow: a tomorrow filled with healthy players and winning. DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t fit in either column.
Not to take anything away from Cousins, but he is not the player the Knicks need. That doesn’t mean he is a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. Before going down with the achilles injury, Cousins was one of the most feared big men in the league. Offensively, he was a dominant juggernaut who could own the paint or spot up for a shot. Not to mention, he had better handles and vision than most centers in the league. Pre-injury, Cousins was a good player. Yet, he always had to worry about injuries, including and especially last season.
After tearing his achilles while still with the New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins had to miss the majority of last season. Then, for the first time in his career, he saw some playoff minutes. Cousins has sat out the post season for most of his career either because of injury or because he simply missed it entirely. Last season was no exception. His playoff time with the Warriors was scarce at best. Thus, since last season wasn’t much of a demonstration, its fair to say that teams don’t really know what he could do in the playoffs. What’s more, the Knicks cannot go after two potentially injured players.
Knicks still in hot pursuit of Durant
Now, Durant still seems to be the number one free agent on the Knicks’ radar. In spite of his injury, which will cause him to miss a majority of next season, Durant is still being considered the best player in the league. Unlike Cousins, Durant has battled in the playoffs throughout the years, winning consecutive Finals MVPs. His resume includes a regular season MVP, two championships, and a boat load of scoring titles. Durant is a confirmed “sniper,” and if when he heals up, he’ll likely look to resume his dominance of the league. For that reasons, pursuing Durant is still considered a prudent decision. Yet, he will need a running mate that can take on the brunt of next season.
The Knicks are Running Out of Options
For the last few weeks, I have been one of the people saying that the Knicks had options, which was true up until a week ago. Anthony Davis got traded to the Lakers. Jimmy Butler is being pursued by the Houston Rockets. Kemba Walker is said to be strongly considering replacing Kyrie Irving in Boston, and Irving is looking to take the point guard spot in Brooklyn. Players such as Tobias Harris and D’Angelo Russell are in limbo for the moment. Either of those two players would be a solid pick-up by the Knicks.
Both are young players who made a splash this past season. Russell proved many doubters wrong by leading the Brooklyn Nets to their first playoff appearance in years. Tobias Harris, on the other hand, helped put the Los Angeles Clippers back on the map before getting shipped to Philadelphia, where he helped get the team into the second round. Both players are looking to take that next step in their respective careers to go from stars to superstars. Making a deep playoff run with this roster and a potential running mate in Kevin Durant could do just that for the team. Pursing Harris or Russell would be a better use of the Knicks resources. Instead, the Knicks could erroneously use those resources on Cousins. Regardless, whoever the Knicks end up pursuing, they need to start making phone calls before everyone is gone.
If the Knicks have a solid chance of signing Tobias Harris or D’Angelo Russell, then they should take it. This is especially true because it doesn’t seem like New York has dropped their plan to add Durant to the roster. However, in regards to Cousins, the team should only consider getting him if he is willing to sign a one year veteran minimum. Otherwise, the team should look to make a play with other available talent. However, the prospects are fleeting, so the Knicks better start setting up some meetings.