Risk or reward: Knicks eye free agency
NEW YORK — The New York Knicks traded away one star for the chance to sign two.
If it works, and Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving bring the playoffs back to New York, it will have been the deal that finally got the Knicks moving toward the top after years of running in place.
But if Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic turn into the frontcourt of the future in Dallas and the Knicks can’t get anyone to take their money, basketball purgatory in New York could last a while longer.
The Knicks entered themselves into the free agency game Thursday when they dealt Porzingis to the Mavericks in a move that helped open nearly $70 million more in salary cap space.
The payoff could be enormous. Failure could take years to overcome, and the Knicks know that as well as anyone.
“That cap space don’t mean nothing unless they get guys because you’re going to have to sign somebody. And if you sign guys who aren’t superstars, it’s going to kill your franchise for the next 10-15 years,” Charles Barkley said Thursday night on TNT.
Irving was at Madison Square Garden on Friday when the Boston Celtics visited, and got a delirious cheer from desperate Knicks fans when starting lineups were announced. He’s one of the biggest prizes in the class of 2019, and after telling Celtics fans in the fall that he planned to re-sign there this summer, he may have left the door unlocked when he told reporters at shootaround to “Ask me July 1” if his plans had changed.
The scene was somewhat reminiscent of when Cleveland came to New York early in the 2008-09 season, shortly after the Knicks made a pair of trades that signaled they would be big spenders when LeBron James headlined the class in the summer of 2010. Knicks fans were so eager to begin wooing James that Spike Lee even wore James’ sneakers that night.