Amid losing their pursuits of top free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Knicks president Steve Mills released a statement empathizing with "disappointed" fans, saying the team is optimistic the franchise is still headed in the right direction for its first NBA championship since 1973.
"While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight's news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through both the draft and targeted free agents," Mills said.
The Knicks, who cleared enough salary cap space to land two free agents to max contracts with their January trade of Kristaps Porzingis, struck out when it came to Durant and Irving, two franchise-changing players who both agreed to four-year near-max contracts with the Brooklyn Nets.
New York, which finished with the worst record in the NBA last season, has missed the playoffs in each of the last six seasons. Over the past 20 years, they have the worst winning percentage among all NBA franchises as well.
Yet Mills is trying to instill some confidence in the rebuilding Knicks, who drafted RJ Barrett third overall last week and have a young roster that also features Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr., Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina and Allonzo Trier.
The Knicks also agreed to a three-year, $63 million deal with 24-year-old forward Julius Randle, a two-year, $20 million contract with veteran forward Taj Gibson and a two-year, $31 million deal with Bobby Portis on Sunday, SNY's Ian Begley confirmed.
However, it's hard to say Randle, Gibson and Portis have as much impact and star power as Durant and Irving, who have combined for 16 All-Star Game appearances and three NBA championships.
Mills and GM Steve Perry released a statement in April indicating how they thought the Knicks' future was "extremely bright," as team officials in February were reportedly optimistic they would be able to land Durant and Irving.
Several months later, that mood has shifted.