The Knicks have made it known that they want to make a big splash in 2019 free agency as the team is expected to have plenty of cap room. There are several high profile stars who they planned on pursuing, a list that had Kyrie Irving at the top.
This dream appears to be dead as Irving has announced his intention to re-sign with the Boston Celtics this offseason.
Irving is a member of one of the most storied franchises in NBA history, and bringing a championship to Boston would solidify his elite status. Former Celtics standout Paul Pierce agrees with this assertion, saying, “I think that’s a legacy decision and for him to see the potential of that team moving forward in Boston,” Pierce said. “Winning a championship in Boston is different than winning one in Cleveland. He will be immortalized if he wins in Boston.”
Kyrie is a 5-time All-Star and a former All-NBA selection and would have undoubtedly helped the Knicks make another trip to the playoffs. However, this clearly is out of the question after declaring his allegiance to the C’s.
So what’s next for the Knicks?
With Kyrie out of the picture, the Knicks will have all hands on deck to go after Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler. Although several skeptics around the NBA believe this is only a pipedream, the fact of the matter is that New York has a legitimate shot at both of these premier players.
Durant has already won two championships with Golden State and may decide to leave the team to improve his image. The Knicks are a possible destination simply because of the allure the franchise offers. Madison Square Garden is one of the most electrifying arenas in the league and is in the center of the greatest city in the world. This is the same reason that LeBron went to the Lakers. Playing in a big-time city where basketball is at the heart of the city’s culture is a great experience, to say the least. Also, KD’s longtime business partner/agent Rich Kleiman is based on New York and is big Knicks fan, along with Durant’s father.
As for Jimmy Butler, he has expressed a degree of interest in coming to New York. A few weeks ago, Butler formally requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves and gave the organization a list of his three preferred destinations, one being the Knicks. He would add the defensive pedigree that the team has been lacking for several years and would fit in nicely with Fizdale’s offensive system.
Although losing out on Kyrie is a big blow, there are plenty of other viable options to revitalize the Mecca of basketball.