The 2018-19 Knicks' losing ways can turn fans off from keeping up with their team's doings in what's little more than a meaningless final two months of play. With the summer comes hope for a franchise desperately in need of some postseason success, in the form of names like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. As the promise of a competitive future or continual misery awaits, here are four potential lineups New York may employ come October.
Kyrie Irving, Garrett Temple, Kevin Durant, Zion Williamson, Mitchell Robinson
Aptly named, this is the perfect storm for the Knicks. Irving and Durant team up to bring a championship to the Knicks with the help of No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, Temple, a steady veteran presence on the wing, and Year 2 of Robinson. There's an idea of flipping Zion for Anthony Davis, but the Knicks would have to all but gut their roster and get Irving and Durant to take something lower than the max. There's a faint possibility, but keeping with a more realistic reach, the above lineup has the potential to dominate defensively. Durant-Williamson-Robinson would be ridiculously tough to score on, and depending on the two guard there's a fun switching scheme to run here. Offensively, we'll have to see how Zion's jumper pans out, but with the ball in his hands that concern is a wash. There's little not to get excited about with these five names.
Kemba Walker, R.J. Barrett, Jimmy Butler, Noah Vonleh, Mitchell Robinson
Say the Knicks miss on Durant and Irving, but can't crawl back to their season-ticket holders with a handful of nothing. Walker is a native New Yorker and was named an All-Star starter for the first time this season. Butler has been hopping from destination to destination and is currently on a powerhouse of a 76ers squad, but the Knicks can offer him a chance to be face of the franchise and handle as much of the offense as he pleases. There are other max-level guys out there too, but this captures the idea of a Knicks team back in the postseason, but still one player short of contention. For the sake of sticking to the "consolation" theme, the Knicks drop to second and take Barrett in this case.
Terry Rozier, Damyean Dotson, Harrison Barnes, Noah Vonleh, Mitchell Robinson
There is a middle ground between the grand prizes of free agency and going home with nothing, but Knicks fans may not like it. Rozier and Barnes are far from bad players, they'd even be well worth signing on certain deals. However, in a world where the Knicks are desperate enough to add talent that they throw big-time money and years at these names, finishing between the No. 7 and 10 seeds every year will not play well for long. Barnes is not a number one guy, as Dallas has learned. There are other names that apply here, perfectly fine players that keep the Knicks out of the top of the lottery, but out of the Finals as well if they take on most of New York's cap room. Ricky Rubio and DeMarcus Cousins (how he looks after the injury as of right now, anyway) are two others. New York would likely be better off going with…
STAY THE COURSE LINEUP
Dennis Smith Jr., Damyean Dotson, Kent Bazemore, Please be Zion, Mitchell Robinson
No Durant? No Kyrie? Still got lots of cap space and an intriguing young core to develop. The Knicks can still avoid going home empty-handed, signing someone like Bazemore to a short-term deal. He could even be useful on a contender if he's on board for that long, but the Knicks would have to be cheeky with cap space. There are cheaper and younger options too like a Rodney McGruder if they offer enough so the Heat don't match, or Jeremy Lamb. You'd be looking at the current core with whoever they take in the 2019 Draft, as well as a few new young guys sprinkled in, hopefully on rental deals to see if they're worth holding onto. There's no telling how this summer ends up for the Knicks, only we'll be seeing some familiar faces, and likely new ones.