The Knicks And Their Options
The off-season is looking to be shakier for the New York Knicks than expected. For the majority of the season, fans believed that the team would get Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As time went on, Anthony Davis was also thrown into that mix. All of that hope, however, died within the last week. Kevin Durant will miss a majority of next season with an Achilles injury, Anthony Davis got traded to the Lakers and Kyrie Irving is eyeing the Brooklyn Nets. Now, the ground seems less stable then ever. With mounting pressure from fans to deliver this off-season, the New York front office is in the hot seat.
Is Kevin Durant still a viable option?
It’s not an exaggeration that Kevin Durant is a top three player in this league. He is essentially unguardable and can undoubtedly bring a team a large amount of success. However, it’s going to be a long wait until he laces up again. An Achilles injury is nothing to joke about. In fact, the injury has a notorious reputation for the negative impact it has on a player’s performance upon return.
Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Durant won’t be able to come back the same. It does mean, though, that if the Knicks continue to pursue him, they have to know that his recovery is a long road. Granted, when he does return, he may reignite the dominance he exuded pre-injury. The truth is, the front office doesn’t know when he will be back. Moreover, they don’t know what shape he’ll be in. On the off chance that the team goes the other way on Durant, the Knicks need to look at their other options.
Let’s look at the options
One notable thing about this free agency is that it is brimming with talent. The Knicks have options, but the question is which of those options will fit best? Fans have been linking Kemba Walker to New York since the middle of the playoffs. The high-scoring point guard could do well on the Knicks, but certainly not by himself. He has led his team to the playoffs in the past few seasons but has yet to show the long-term success that fans are hungry for. Pairing him with Kevin Durant could be a dangerous combination in the long run. However, if the Knicks want to start winning immediately they may want to look at another running mate for Walker. Jimmy Butler comes to mind.
The 31-year-old swingman did well in the playoffs. However, he never really looked like he fit as well as he could in Philadelphia. On a team like New York, though, he could stand as the alpha and really make the team his. Once again, just like Walker, Butler has yet to show the kind of long-term success that fans are looking for. Moreover, as mentioned, Butler is already 31 and may be nearing the end of his peak. It’s questionable how much success he can bring to the team and for how long.
Other names in free agency include players such as Chris Middleton and Tobias Harris. Both players are young and are still in the process of proving themselves in the NBA. There are also more established players such as Klay Thompson, who is both injured and expected to re-sign with the Golden State Warriors. Of course, there is the reigning Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, who the Knicks will try to reach out to. However, he is another player who will likely remain with his current squad. If not, he is also rumored to be heavily considering the Los Angeles Clippers. All of this taken together, the Knicks can make a play at any of the mentioned. Picking a player to throw millions at is easy. Figuring out which player has the best chance of bringing this city a championship is another issue entirely.
What does this team need?
As it stands, the Knicks have a starting point guard in the form of Dennis Smith Jr. Additionally, the team has bought into Mitchell Robinson being the center of the future. However, players such as Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina could easily find themselves on the chopping block. DeAndre Jordan is likely on his way out while other players such as Damyean Dotson are looking to step up. However, the team still needs to bolster their defensive end and bench in addition to scoring prowess. This is a shooter’s league now. The Knicks have no legitimate shooters on their roster, which is something they have to fix immediately. Moves do need to be made, and the moves need to happen sooner than later.
The Knicks cleared $70 million off the books for a reason. Fans are making a big demand here and the team has no choice but to deliver. Whether it be Durant and Irving or another superstar combo all together, the Knicks must make productive use of this offseason. Of course, the team has more pressing matters at the moment, such as making the right pick during draft night. However, once the draft is concluded, the Knicks need to put all their focus on signing two stars that will lead this team into the future.