What the New York Knicks should do if Kevin Durant deal falls through

Brooklyn Nets, Kevin Durant

Being a New York Knicks fan is not easy – one day Kevin Durant is 100% confirmed and the next he’s going to the Clippers. The fact of the matter is, there are no guarantees in the NBA, especially when it comes to the Knicks and their wheelhouse of mistakes.

Durant has reportedly purchased a house in New York, a potential indicator of his plans to move to the Mecca. However, I’m still not convinced until the deal is official. The fair question to ask is:

What should the New York Knicks do if Kevin Durant takes his talents elsewhere?

A simple strategy would be to continue building through youth and developing the young stars on the team. The Knicks must go out and draft RJ Barrett, a player that averaged 26.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 5.1 APG when Zion Williamson was out for six games.

Adding his offensive capabilities and defensive prowess will impact the team immediately. One season of development for Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier should see the Knicks win more games in 2019. Losing Durant shouldn’t deter the Knicks from going after other high-profile free agents, though.

Adding a player like Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker would make all the difference on a team of youth talent. A seasoned veteran point guard would be a perfect beneficiary. The Knicks will have about $70-73 million in cap space to sign two max contracts. If Durant isn’t willing to bring his talents to New York and the Knicks want to look into positions excluding point guard, here are a few options.

-Klay Thompson

The chances of the Knicks luring Thompson to the Big Apple is low, but he’s still a possibility in free agency. Chances are that he stays with the Warriors, otherwise, the only other expected destination is Los Angeles.

-Tobias Harris

The Philadelphia 76ers will likely attempt to keep Harris for the extended future, making New York an afterthought. However, he is a quality player that averaged 18.2 points per game in 2018. He’s had a pretty consistent career, hovering around the 20 points-per-game average. He would be a great addition for the Knicks, but only if they can bring in a top free agent as well.

Other options:

-Jimmy Butler

-Khris Middleton

-D’Angelo Russell

-Nikola Vucevic

It’s fair that we consider the other players available in free agency, but Durant simply offers the most value at this point in his career. Averaging 26 points-per-game this season in addition to 5.9 assists shows what he’s capable of. Giving him a team of young players to manage could be the icing on the cake for his already illustrious career. Lebron James has attempted to do a similar thing in Los Angeles, but it hasn’t panned out up to this point.

I don’t believe that Durant alone can be the difference maker for the Knicks that would take them to a potential finals game. They need multiple players including two max-contract stars to really make this team competitive.

A starting lineup consisting of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, and Durant would be one of the best in the league. However, the talent around the NBA might not see this group make the Eastern Conference Finals.

Instead of draft RJ Barrett, the Knicks have explored the idea of trading back into the draft to find one or two players that compliment Durant and Irving well. This upcoming draft is considered a 3-player draft, which doesn’t promote this idea very much. It’s an interesting idea nonetheless.