Will New York Knicks go all-in on Anthony Davis after Kevin Durant injury?

Should the New York Knicks prioritize Anthony Davis after Kevin Durant injury?

Once again, the hearts and minds of New York Knicks fans have been shattered. The vibration that was sent through Warriors star Kevin Durant’s calf spelled trouble for the free agency period, despite teams being unphased by the assumed significance of the injury.

Many general managers have not shied away from stating they will still offer Durant a max-contract even after an expected torn Achilles tendon. However, the Knicks, who will have room for two max-deals, might be more inclined to shift their efforts towards Anthony Davis, who named them as one of his preferred destinations.

Davis, who’s coming off a stellar year averaging 25.9 points-per-game, would cost a lot more than a max-contract if the Knicks are looking to bite. They would have to give up the 3rd overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, in addition to multiple young talents looking to take the next step on the starting team.

The Pelicans star is ‘that’ good, though, which makes a deal possible. Now, I wouldn’t rule out the Knicks staying put with their focus on Durant, who will lose a bit of leverage after the injury.

An Achilles tear typically requires between 4-6 months of recovery, and even then the muscle can never return to full strength. That reality poses a risk in of itself, but it’s one the starving franchise might need to take, especially if they lose out on Kyrie Irving and other top free agents.

Durant was rumored to be on his way to New York after purchasing a home and stating his desire. The reality is that the injury will play a significant part, but giving up the house for Davis is still the lesser of the two options, considering the boat-load of money the Knicks have to spend anyway.

The question we have to ask ourselves is – did the New York Knicks dodge a bullet?

Durant coming to New York would have been phenomenal, but at 30-years old and now facing a major injury, his potential is lessened exponentially. Maybe, the Knicks should stick with their youth talent and build for the long haul and not the short term.

Continue to develop the talent on the roster and add pieces every year to assist in their growth, instead of overpaying in an attempt to bring expedited success.

New York Knicks could swipe D’Angelo Russell from Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn Nets, D'Angelo Russell

With the Brooklyn Nets suddenly entering the conversation for star point guard Kyrie Irving and his elusive skill-set, the New York Knicks could contend for D’Angelo Russell in free agency.

Russell, who finally came into himself in his fourth season as a professional, proved the LA Lakers wrong with an All-Star performance in 2018. The Nets enjoyed his progression, as he averaged 21.1 points-per-game (basketball-reference), leading an unexpected team to the playoffs, despite falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.

At this point in time, it seems as if the Nets have surpassed the Knicks in terms of potential and success. However, the Knicks, ran by Scott Perry, could be a suitable destination for the Nets point guard if they do, in fact, go after Irving.

Russell has been rumored to stay with the Nets as of late, as his image and pride has forced him to make a difficult decision. The Knicks might be the only team that could pry him away, allowing him to stay in New York and compete on the biggest stage.

With $73 million in cap space, the Knicks will have plenty of cash to splash on the dynamic point guard, and if Kevin Durant is set on bringing his talents to the Mecca, it might convince D’Angelo to take his talents up the street.

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Other option still remains on the table for the New York Knicks:

If the Knicks strike out on Irving, Kemba Walker, and Russell, they could still elect to trade the farm in favor of Anthony Davis and still bring in Durant. They would take up just about all of their available cap space and they would lose a majority of their youth talent. However, the starting team would be instant playoff caliber.

In addition, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler, and more, will all be on the open market. The Knicks simply couldn’t have picked a better time to open up the flood gates with cap space.

 

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett “this is the place I want to be”

The New York Knicks are considering drafting RJ Barrett with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

The New York Knicks are expected to be locked in on Duke star RJ Barrett with the 3rd overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft. After missing out on Zion Williamson, one of the most polarizing players entering the league, the next best bet was Barret, who will be an instant play-maker.

Barrett scheduled only one workout – the New York Knicks, stating after:

“This is the pace I want to be.”

The bright lights, The Garden, what’s not to like about the vicious media-driven hell-hole of New York City? Nothing has ever gone wrong here before, has it? I can’t imagine Barrett following in JR Smith’s footsteps and going clubbing after every game, but the Big Apple does strange things to people and players alike.

However, adding a talent like RJ to the roster would be impactful. His abilities on the court, offensively and defensively, present immense value for a team that lacks true star talent.

In fact, most think, on any other team, Barrett would have been so good he could’ve been the No. 1 pick. He likely would have been given Zion didn’t take over college basketball on a national stage.

He averaged 22.6 points-per-game on a team that centered their offense around Williamson.

At this point, it’s almost a guarantee that Barrett will take his talents to New York, given the Knicks don’t trade away their pick in favor of Anthony Davis or another superstar. With $73 million in cap space opening up, the team could have a completely different look come next season, and that would be a very good thing.

New York Knicks: Kevin Knox can take a big jump by working on these weaknesses

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

At just 19-years-old, New York Knicks 2018 first-round pick Kevin Knox was bound to face plenty of challenges at the professional level. Adapting to the speed and physicality of the NBA is not an easy feat, and Knox felt the brunt of that sword in his rookie season.

Nermous metrics ranked Knox as the worst rotational player in basketball. However, he has plenty of time to work on his weaknesses and blossom into a top player.

What does New York Knicks’ Kevin Knox need to work on?

The young power forward needs to work on his strength first and foremost. He was outmuscled and stuffed at the rim far too many times last season. He went through streaks of success but mostly struggled around the rim.

The ideal version of Knox would be a power forward that can knock down three-pointers, attack the rim through defenders and adapts to multiple positions with little adhesion. Kevin is still far from his physical prime at just 19, which promotes optimism.

At just 215-pounds, though, he will have to find a way to balance his game. Facing some of the better defenders in the league will test his abilities, and the Knicks signing a star might help him develop behind the scenes where he can tackle lesser defenders more frequently.

Adding a bit of weight and strength this offseason could be the catalyst for his expected growth. In addition to his size, three-point shooting should be a prioritized development for Knox moving forward.

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On about five-attempts per-game, Knox shot 34.3 percent from beyond the arch. Not the worst percentage but certainly not the best. A majority of his attempts were catch and shoot, a stat that needs to be lessened if he wishes to be more impactful in that category. He needs to move around the floor more efficiently and create more separation.

However, Knox did knock down an impressive 39.4 percent of wide-open threes, which is impressive and a positive he needs to focus on. Lastly, he needs to work on attacking the rim.

At 6-foot-9, Knox has elite playmaking potential and scoring prowess. From the restricted area, he connected on just 48 percent of shots. A devastatingly low number that must be improved. Added strength should help in this department. Spending months in the gym during the offseason should allow him to elevate his game in year 2 — the Knicks will need him to be a valuable rotational player.

Should the New York Knicks be considering Jarrett Culver at No. 3?

Should the New York Knicks consider Jarrett Culver?

This is the start of a new series here on Empire Sports Media, where I’ll look at sixteen potential New York Knicks draftees, both in the first and second rounds, ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20th. Next up is Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver.

Texas Tech basketball experienced a renaissance this year. While the program had been trending up under the leadership of Chris Beard, the man who had been extolled by the conglomerate of basketball writers, it had yet to break through. It was a program built on grit, toughness, and the will to win.

So it seemed fitting that the player who led the charge in 2018-19 embodied the said characteristics. That player was Jarrett Culver, the crafty wing who emerged as a star this season. Under the tutelage of Beard, Culver became the Big 12 Player of the Year, averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 boards, and 3.7 assists per game, on .461/.304/.707 shooting.

After a nationally televised game against Duke (played in Madison Square Garden) in which Culver went for 25, six, and four, and made five of 12 threes, he took off as a prospect. The media took notice, and in a draft that is devoid of great options behind Zion Williamson, he became entrenched in the top five conversation.

New York Knicks —  Taking a look at the pros and cons for Jarrett Culver:

Pros:

Culver is an excellent finisher. He lacks an explosive first step or elite leaping ability at the rim, but he extremely nuanced in his second and third steps, and he has mastered the different angles he has to take to put the ball in the basket. I love how smart he is and how he never forces the issue. Whereas a Ja Morant or RJ Barrett are occasionally out of control around the rim, Culver is almost always composed.

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While Culver didn’t shoot a high percentage from deep, his mechanics are solid and he displayed an above-average mid-range jumper. He consistently knocked down clutch shots throughout Texas Tech’s tournament run, and he is smooth in transition as well. As a scorer, he could definitely be a 15-20 a game kind of guy.

Though he is a solid scorer, the two things I love most about Culver are his defense and his passing. He was a high-level defender at Tech, defending the opponent’s best scorer on a regular basis. He uses his 6-7 frame to make things difficult for bigger players, and I was surprised at how easily he was able to stay with smaller, quicker guards.

His instincts as a passer are tremendous. While he only averaged 3.7 assists per game, he projects as a secondary ball handler who is fully capable of setting up an offense. He’s effective as a drive and kick player as well, oftentimes hitting the open shooter rather than forcing up a contested layup.

Cons:

I’m worried about Culver’s ability to create his own shot at the next level. Sure, he scored his points, but he lacks the athleticism needed to beat the defender off the dribble, and he is unable to get his shot up quick enough to have an effective step-back jumper.

In the NCAA Tournament, Tech’s offense would sometimes devolve into Culver isolations, and he was unable to get himself a good shot. He’ll need to master a go-to move and become more explosive in the NBA.

Part of the reason why he was unable to get a good shot off is because he has a loose handle. This is not uncommon for a player his size who is only just becoming the number one option (he was just a three-star recruit in high school, after all), and I do think it will improve.

That said, there are too many times where he loses control and has to regroup. Additionally, he is not creative with his handle, trying to get by defenders with smarts and craftiness. While this strategy worked fine in the Big 12, the NBA is a different beast.

This past season, Kevin Knox struggled in large part because his handle was not yet up to speed for what the NBA requires. It is essential as a guard or wing in the NBA to have at least a capable handle because the defenders are simply too quick and too smart.

Other Notes:

Culver is a proven leader, and I love the way he stepped up for a Red Raider squad in need of an alpha dog. Watching his games, it is easy to see him communicating at a high level, and it is easy to see the respect his teammates have for him.

As just a three-star recruit who chose Tech because he is from Lubbock, Texas, Culver has a chip on his shoulder, and he plays like it. He may not be the highest upside play, but I have a hard time seeing Jarrett Culver be anything other than a plus contributor who could develop into a second or third option on a good team. I have him second on my Knicks board, ahead of both RJ Barrett and Darius Garland (who are third and fourth, respectively).

 

Will the New York Knicks lose out in free agency to the Brooklyn Nets?

New York Knicks

The rumor mill is one of the most volatile things during the offseason. One week, every player is going to the New York Knicks, the next, they’re going to the Brooklyn Nets. It’s a wild media-driven ride that will include fake news and some real sprinkled in-between. Ultimately, we won’t officially know anything until a player is signed, but as of late, the free agent stars of the NBA have seemingly lost interest in the Knicks.

It’s hard to believe the Nets are the team to join this offseason, but they’re a playoff caliber team that just opened up a boat-load of cap space to go out and pursue big-time players.

Kevin Durant is still rumored to favor the Knicks, but options like Kyrie Irving, who was spotted in Manhattan last week, are seriously considering the Nets instead.

It all comes down to management and the front office, something the Nets have improved significantly over the past few seasons. The Knicks, however, are an ever-turning Ferris wheel of disaster. Phil Jackson, thought to be the savior of the franchise, plummeted the team into a state of despair.

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Now, the team is built on youth and will have a top 3 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. The obvious pick would be RJ Barrett, a very talented player that averaged more than 26 points per game in his lone college season with Duke. He played second fiddle to Zion Williamson, but on any other team, he would have been even more impressive.

The Knicks will likely elect to choose him, which will hopefully draw interest from some big players. Bringing in two stars – preferably Durant and a point guard would put the Knicks in a place to compete for a playoff spot. It’s just a matter of convincing players to come, which will be difficult considering the bad mojo the Knicks have forced upon players for quite some time.

It will be interesting to see how the free agency period plays out. The Nets could keep DeAngelo Russell and still sign Kyrie Irving, they have plenty of money to make a splash and they have a loyal fan-base ready to come out and support. They are a serious threat to the Knicks in FA.

Should the New York Knicks favor Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant in free agency?

New York Knicks

If the New York Knicks can convince either Kawhi Leonard to Kevin Durant to sign with them, it would be a huge deal. In fact, it would likely be the missing puzzle piece in a perennially bad franchise looking to drag themselves out of the dark ages.

It relies on them bringing in star players, as the youth on the team is talented but they are in dire need of a true leader and difference maker. The Carmelo Anthony age failed to provide ample success, so now they must look to players like Durant to help save the franchise from eternal doom.

The New York Knicks will leave no stone unturned:

Rumors have stated that the Knicks will make a big push for the Toronto Raptors star who is currently leading his team to an NBA Finals victory. When free agency begins on June 30th, Scott Perry is expected to go after Leonard, according to Newsday. First things first, though, the Knicks have to ensure they can even earn a meeting with the esteemed scorer.

Kawhi is currently averaging 30.9 points per game this playoff period, bringing Toronto to their first ever NBA finals appearance. Durant is sitting on the bench with a calf strain as his team falls to a 2-1 deficit.

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Overall, Durant has been the more healthy option despite his recent ailment, playing in more total games than Leonard over the past two seasons. The Warriors star is averaging 36.9 minutes per game compared to Kawhi’s 30.9. However, the difference in minutes hasn’t mattered much considering Leonards 26.6 points per game compared to Durant’s 26 during the regular season.

The bottom line, the Knicks would be lucky to snag one of the two options in free agency, but the better option would likely be Durant based on his total statistical output and health. There are several other teams that will pursue both players, specifically the Clippers who will push hard for Leonard this offseason. The Knicks will have to fend off the competition will minimal advantages – they will have to sell their youth talent and the idea of making New York city a great basketball destination once again.

 

 

Can the New York Knicks Sign both Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard?

New York Knicks, Kawhi Leonard, Toronto Raptors

The idea of signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has been the talk of the town for the New York Knicks and their fans, however, what if they were able to secure two of the most polarizing players in basketball.

Reports have indicated that Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard may opt to leave the northern city, which could open up an opportunity for the Knicks.

Marc Berman of the New York Post reported: “Knicks president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry fully expect to get a meeting” with Leonard.

Convincing him to come to New York will be a tall task considering the other options available, but maybe, just maybe, he has a sweet spot for Madison Square Garden and its fans.

How much would the Knicks have to dish out?

If the Knicks can walk into the 2019 offseason with $72.5 million in cap space, a very possible number, they would easily be able to sign two max contracts. Would it be enough for Durant and Leonard? That’s the ultimate question.

Additionally, it would force the Knicks to utilize the point guards currently on the team – Frank Ntilikina might just find himself with a third chance at life as a starter.

Kawhi is currently hauling in a bit over $18M per season, but I imagine that will jump into the $30-35M range after he finishes up in the NBA finals. Durant is averaging $30.75M per season, a number the Knicks can work with. Together, they would take up a majority of the cap space, but it would be worth every penny.

Despite sticking with Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., they would have two players average a combined 52.6 points per game. Throw in the 3rd overall pick and the youth already on the roster and suddenly the Knicks are one of the league’s most polarizing teams.

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What the Knicks’ starting roster could look like in this scenario:

-Kevin Durant

-Kawhi Leonard

-Dennis Smith Jr.

-Mitchell Robinson

-RJ Barrett

With Durant playing as a shooting guard and Leonard as a traditional small forward, the dynamic of the team would be theoretically unstoppable.

How the New York Knicks stack up against the 2010-14 Miami Heat super team

New York Knicks, Kevin Knox

How does the New York Knicks current team stack up against the Miami Heat from 2014?

Back in 2010, when a man by the name of LeBron James uttered the words, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” the landscape of the NBA changed forever. A dynasty was born in Miami, as the Heat would win two of the next four titles. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, along with James, made up the first great “superteam.”

What does this have to do with the New York Knicks, you ask? Well, our beloved team is attempting to recreate something like the aforementioned Heat squad, just nine years later. I wanted to harken back on that Miami team and try to draw some similarities between the ideal Knicks scenario, and the championship team that Pat Riley was able to assemble for the Heat.

The Heat Already Had Success (and a little luck)

While the Heat already had Wade and needed to sign James and Bosh, the Knicks don’t have anyone. Their situation would include signing two max free agents and trading for another star player. Another key difference is the team’s previous levels of success. The Knicks finished last season with the league’s worst record, while Miami finished 47-35 and made the playoffs.

In the NBA, luck plays such a huge role. The Heat were fortunate enough to land two-star players, despite not being an elite team. They did this because Miami is a big market, because Pat Riley is an excellent recruiter, and because the Knicks couldn’t put together a coherent presentation.

The Knicks, too, are relying on the ever-unpredictable game of luck. You have to be when your team wins just 17 games, and your owner is James Dolan. Kevin Durant, the team’s primary target, is considering the Knicks for a variety of reasons, most notably to improve his business acumen. With LeBron in L.A., New York is the perfect city for Durant to grow his businesses and invest.

What Would a Super Team Look Like in New York?

Let’s say New York does secure the services of Durant. With the second max slot, point guard becomes a priority. Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker make up the highest tier of free agent point guards, and both would pair perfectly with KD, just as Wade paired perfectly with LeBron.

Finally, the Knicks have to go out and trade for a third star. The two options on the table are New Orleans’ Anthony Davis and Washington’s Bradley Beal. While Davis is the superior player, his contract is up after the 2019-20 season, and New York will have to give up more in terms of assets to get him. Just like Bosh, the third star is a crucial piece to this the puzzle.

In order to get a player like Davis or Beal, a package would likely have to include Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier, the third overall pick (likely Duke’s RJ Barrett), as well as one or two of the future picks from Dallas from the Kristaps Porzingis trade. That is a lot, and the fanbase seems split on whether it is the right move. But were the Knicks to make such a move, the team would even more closely resemble the former Heat squad.

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Say, Walker and Davis, along with Durant, are onboard, and the starting lineup is as follows: Kemba Walker, Damyean Dotson, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Mitchell Robinson. That’s a fantastic starting lineup, but, like the Heat, the rest of the roster will have to be filled out with a combination of young players and cheap veterans.

Miami’s 2011 team, for reference, took some younger players (Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Joel Anthony), as well as solid veterans (Shane Battier, Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller). The Knicks could employ an eight or nine-man rotation, with youngsters such as Kadeem Allen and Luke Kornet, as well as veterans like Anthony Tolliver and Mike Scott (potential free agent options).

While developing young guys is always great, it doesn’t always work, and acquiring three legitimate superstars is the safest way to win. Just look at the 2010-14 Miami Heat.

 

New York Knicks: Kyrie Irving spotted in New York as rumors swirl

New York Knicks, Kyrie Irving, Boston Celtics

To add even more gas to the rumor-mill fire, Kyrie Irving was seen in New York. Was he potentially meeting with the Knicks? Maybe, or was he just enjoying some time in the greatest city in the world…

The Knicks have been linked to Irving recently as they prepare to drop two max-contracts this offseason on star players. Both Kevin Durant and the Celtics star are in the running to join the Knicks in the Mecca of basketball, however, nothing is set in stone.

The New York Knicks will have to fight for Kyrie Irving:

It was rumored that Irving could be interested in the Brooklyn Nets, which could create some confusion considering he’s in New York, a short train ride or deluxe Uber in Irving’s case to Barclay’s Center. Hopefully, he’s taking the shuttle train from Grand Central straight to Time Square and a short city walk down to MSG.

Hosting Irving will be interesting, considering the treatment he’s received throughout his career. The injury-prone point guard would be a perfect fit alongside Durant, said every Knicks fan ever.

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Binging in both players would instantly improve the roster and move some of the youth into reserve roles, which would ultimately be beneficial for their development. It would also create a strong foundation that would limit the star’s fatigue.

If the Knicks are in competition with the Nets to lure Irving to New York, they need to ensure him he will have a co-star to utilize and the 3rd overall pick to further bolster the team with talent. They currently have Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson. Dennis Smith Jr., Allonzo Trier, and Damyeon Dotson on the team. All of which gained exponential experience in 2018, putting them in a position to succeed next season with two max-contract players added to the roster.