The writing was on the wall early Sunday that the New York Knicks were not going to be the big winners of the 2019 NBA free agency period.
Kyrie Irving was rumored to sign with the Brooklyn Nets for days, and the next chess piece moved when Kevin Durant announced he would be joining him, both signing four-year deals. The Knicks went on to miss out on several other big names, opting to sign Julius Randle and a trio of role players on short-term deals.
In reality, three events led to the Knicks once-promising 2019-20 season forecast turning into ashes – the Pelicans prevailing in the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, Durant going down with a ruptured Achilles, and Anthony Davis joining LeBron James on the Lakers.
Still, the Knicks saw their title odds drop from being long shots at +4500 to even greater long shots at +15000, following the first night of free agency. The Knicks are essentially waiving the white flag for the next two seasons as in addition to missing out on Durant, there are no real impact free agents in 2020, that is, once Anthony Davis signs an extension.
Kawhi Leonard lurks as the last major player in free agency, but the Knicks currently don't have the cap space to offer him a max deal and the likelihood of him signing with New York was extremely low regardless.
The Knicks will now rely on the growth of young players like Randle, rookie RJ Barrett, second-year players Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, and third-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
The best bet for the Knicks now, since free agency clearly hasn't worked out on multiple occasions, is to rebuild through the draft and by making savvy trades, similar to the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks do hold all of their own first-round picks along with the Dallas Mavericks' first-round picks in 2010 and 2023 over the next four years.
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