Risk or re­ward: Knicks eye free agency

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Brian Ma­honey

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.

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