The biggest return in the Knicks' trade of Kristaps Porzingis and other veterans with the Mavericks on Thursday was the nice chunk of cap space they freed up. It showed that the Knicks are throwing all their cards into an intriguing free agent class that could involve All-Stars like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Klay Thompson to name a few.
Knicks fans are already looking ahead to a Durant-Irving duo at Madison Square Garden, as the team has the ability now to sign two max players. But does this strategy mean New York is out on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes?
If the Knicks are hell-bent on creating their own Big Three with Durant, Irving, and Davis, there are options the teams could exercise. ESPN's Kevin Pelton broke them down beginning with where New York falls in the draft lottery.
As of now, the Knicks are the worst team in the NBA with a 10-40 record. But, with changes to the lottery this season, the worst three teams in the league at the end of the year all have a 14 percent chance of landing the first overall pick. So there is a big chance the Knicks fall down the draft board (if they finish with the worst record, they can't fall lower than No. 5).
If the Knicks don't land Zion Williamson, who Pelton points out would be a perfect fit for a Durant-Irving combo to work with immediately next season, then trading whoever they draft along with Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and the newly-acquired Dennis Smith Jr. would barely make a legal trade for Davis.
The Knicks would need to send $21.6 million in salary back to the Pelicans, and that package -- which could also include one of the Knicks' future first-rounders they acquired in the Mavs deal -- would surely pique New Orleans' interest. If that scenario pans out, the Knicks would then have to figure out who fills the rest of the roster beneath the three superstars.
This, of course, is all hypothetical, but there is a chance the Knicks could explore this option if the Pelicans don't feel like trading Davis to the Lakers (same conference), and the Celtics back off with Irving signing with the Knicks. Irving was questioned about his commitment to re-signing with the Celtics following the Porzingis news, and answered, "I don't owe anybody s---," so chances he opts out of his deal seem to have increased based off that comment.
As for Durant, The Athletic's Sam Amick noted Knicks officials being highly optimistic in landing the 6-foot-11 scoring machine if he also decides to opt out with his deal in Golden State. Durant would be opting out of $31.5 million next season, and there's a stronger chance he does compared to Irving due to the fact that he could make $38.15 million next season having served at least 10 years in the NBA.
So, the Durant-Irving pairing would be a more realistic get for the Knicks, and that may be exactly what they have in mind. But Davis isn't completely off the table, so barring he doesn't get traded during the season and the Knicks lure Durant and Irving to MSG, New York could shock the NBA world even more with a package the Pelicans can't refuse.