Team president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry, and the rest of the Knicks' front office has been working hard to prepare for free agency that kicks off officially this Sunday at 6 p.m. It's a summer that could bring immediate change to the franchise that been stuck in the mud for more than a decade.
And as Knicks fans are well aware of by now, two max free agent slots are in New York's possession to use if they so choose. Some of the top players -- Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving to name a few -- could fill those holes.
But there are some lower level free agents that can still make an impact next season. According to The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears, the Knicks have shown some interest in Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, both players that have ties to Perry during his time with the Magic. DeMarcus Cousins, Markieff Morris, and Marcus Morris are on the radar as well as Julius Randle.
Though Mills wouldn't give up to the names of players he is expecting to meet with, he knows the Knicks will be getting looks from all over.
"We are going to have the opportunity to meet with the guys we want to meet with," Mills said.
Make no mistake: The Knicks' sole purpose this free agency isn't to simply fill the slots. As SNY's Ian Begley has reported, the Knicks won't be handing out long-term contracts to a player that isn't at the top of their list. It will need to be a Durant, Irving, Leonard, or maybe Kemba Walker to land that supermax deal.
If the Knicks don't get their top targets, short-term deals would likely be the next alternative to keep their cap flexibility. Would a player like Harris or Vucevic, two players in the prime of their careers, sign with the Knicks short-term?
At the end of the day, the Knicks will get into the specifics of the deal if they believe the player will be committed to the plan Mills and Perry have been spearheading since they joined forces in The Garden.
"Our plan wasn't to create $70 million in room to go after free agents this summer," Mills explained. "Our plan was to organically build this team through teamwork, drafting well, getting high-character guys that want to compete. The [salary cap] space was a byproduct of that. If the right guys are there for us, great, because we still have all the young pieces and draft picks to move forward.
"And if they're not, we're going to keep building our plan, drafting our guys, playing well and potentially being trade partners. We feel really good about where we are going."
Enticing their top targets will be a challenge. Yes, playing in Madison Square Garden on a nightly basis, and being in the greatest basketball city in the world definitely speaks for itself. But, with all the dysfunction the Knicks been through recently on and off the court, it's hard for top free agents to fully commit knowing they want to win immediately.
There is one factor going the Knicks' way, though, that Spears points out. The Knicks' front office has the most black representatives than any other team in a league that is 74.8 percent African American and 81.9 percent people of color.
"The African American front office, that doesn't get lost on guys," Mills said.
The little things matter, especially for top-tier players who will be getting the kitchen sink thrown at them during their meetings. Mills and Perry know this, and they're fully prepared to find the perfect players to integrate in their roster.
"We are trying to build a basketball team that will be good for a long time," Perry said. "Look at the teams in the [NBA] Finals, the final four and the elite eight in the playoffs, it took years to build those teams."
Landing some top free agents could cut a few of those years off the Knicks' timeline back to playoff contender.