While it’s not necessarily having a major impact on the court for either team, the seven-player trade completed by the Knicks and Mavericks in advance of the trade deadline was perhaps the biggest deal of 2019 so far due to its long-term implications.
For New York, there were a handful of motivating factors — the club got to take a chance on a 2017 lottery pick in Dennis Smith Jr., and secured a couple future first-round picks too. But perhaps the most important aspect of the trade from the Knicks’ perspective was that it allowed the team to create not just one, but two maximum-salary contracts slots in free agency this summer.
Since the Knicks made the deal, speculation has run wild about their potential offseason targets. Do they know something we don’t about Kevin Durant‘s plans? Or Kyrie Irving‘s? Is New York native Kemba Walker in their crosshairs?
Before their trade with the Mavs, the Knicks were already close to having enough space for one maximum-salary free agent, and wouldn’t have had to attach Porzingis to a larger package to create that extra room. Instead, the team chose to make a blockbuster deal that opened a pair of those slots.
What, exactly, does that tell us about their summer plans? If they’re not sure about Durant or Irving coming, would they offer a maximum-salary deal to another free agent? Will Kawhi Leonard be a target? Knicks fans would be a little less thrilled about the prospect of the club using that space to give max deals to two players from a group that includes Walker, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and Khris Middleton, but maybe those players will be on the team’s wish list as well.
On the other hand, if the Knicks can’t land both Durant and Irving, the prudent move might be to use their leftover cap room to absorb an unwanted contract or two to accumulate more assets — or to sign players to one-term contracts, rolling over their cap room to next summer.
When a panel of ESPN.com experts made offseason predictions last week, one question asked how many maximum-salary free agents the Knicks would sign this summer. The top answer was two (47.2%), followed by one (41.7%), and zero (11.1%). In other words, there’s a strong belief that the Knicks will invest huge money in at least one star this offseason, and likely two.
What do you think? Are you bullish on the Knicks’ chances of landing two stars? Do you believe they’ll hand out two max contracts even if they don’t necessarily get their top two choices? Or do you think they’ll end up being a little more patient with their newfound flexibility?
Vote in our poll, then head below to the comment section to share your thoughts!
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