The Knicks don’t expect to be very involved in this summer’s free agent period, according to president of basketball operations Steve Mills, who said this week on ESPN Radio that the club is unlikely to offer any contracts with multiyear guarantees. Instead, as ESPN’s Ian Begley relays, the Knicks are looking ahead to making a splash during the 2019 free agent period.
“Our goal is to get our house in order. Develop the foundation,” Mills said. “And we are not going to be players [in free agency] this year. If we sign guys it’s going to be for a one-year deal because we are going to have room for a max contract in the following year. We’ll be able to make room for a max guy.”
The Knicks’ stance makes sense, with Enes Kanter reportedly leaning heavily toward exercising his player option in 2018/19. Assuming Kanter opts in, it will essentially eliminate the club’s cap room for this offseason, but would put New York on track to open up space next summer.
According to Mills, the Knicks feel like they can put themselves in a position “where stars are going to want to come to us” in 2019. However, as Begley and ESPN’s Bobby Marks note, more moves will eventually be required if the club wants to clear enough cap room for a maximum-salary free agent in ’19, especially if Kristaps Porzingis gets an extension this offseason.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported on Thursday that the Celtics remain confident about re-signing Kyrie Irving next summer, but the star point guard figures to be one prime target for the Knicks. Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kemba Walker are among the other All-Stars eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2019.
As for Porzingis, his relationship with the Knicks has been rocky at times, but Mills indicated on Thursday that the team is very comfortable with where things currently stand with the young star.
“We communicate with KP all the time,” Mills said, per Begley. “And we know he feels good about directionally where we’re going. I think you can see that through some of his tweets and social media stuff, and our conversations with him. He’s back on board with where we’re going and we feel really good about his future with us.”