The free agent market in the NBA is one of pure unpredictability. The New York Knicks will see players expected to join their ranks take their talents elsewhere and others agree to compete in the Mecca. My initial thoughts are – Kevin Durant won’t wind up being with the Knicks, but that won’t stop them from pursuing Toronto Raptors star, Kawhi Leonard.
As much as Leonard enjoys winning, he seems to enjoy the challenge just as much. Location doesn’t mean as much as holding the trophy at the end of the NBA finals, yet reports have stated he’s interested in going to Los Angeles.
The Knicks will start their pursuit with a disadvantage, but their game-plan should be to convince him that he can solidify his name at the top by leading a team of youth and becoming a mentor as well as a winner.
The New York Knicks need to emphasize their direction and the challenge:
Having youngsters like RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Damyeon Dotson to work with, Leonard might be intrigued by the leadership role and true challenge of New York. In addition, the Knicks have two max-contract slots to fill, which would allow them to pair Kawhi with another talented option.
Think — Kawhi and D’Angelo Russell. Two elite talents that can work well together. Given Kyrie Irving ends up in Brooklyn, the Knicks will need to find talent at the point guard position, which is where Russell enters the picture.
Coming off an All-Star performance in 2018, the free agent will be looking to earn a pretty penny, and the reality is, the Knicks, residing up the block and a quick ride on the 4 train, are a good option. The point guard has already stated he wants to stay in the Big Apple, which gives the Knicks an advantage.
It will be interesting to see how they approach free agency and if Leonard is actually a possibility. It’s expected they will earn a meeting with him, but convincing him to lead a team of youth will be the difficult part.