Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Knicks president Steve Mills didn't want to talk about free agency during the introductory press conference for Knicks rookies RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis.
"Today is not the day to talk about free agency," Mills said. "We're here to celebrate and enjoy having these guys join our team."
But when he was asked what the Knicks' message to their fans is at the moment, Mills preached patience.
"I think we're asking them (the fans) to continue to be patient. We laid out a plan when Scott (Perry) came on board and then David (Fizdale) joined us, that we were gonna build this team the right way," Mills said. "We're going to draft well and we're gonna be diligent about how we make this team and not take any shortcuts. And follow a path. We believe these two guys are part of that process."
What does patience mean?
The Knicks remain in the running for top free agents Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, but the club will seek more information about the nature of Durant's Achilles injury during its pursuit of the two-time Finals MVP.
If the Knicks don't land their top targets in free agency -- which is a short list -- they don't plan to use their cap space to take back an undesirable contract in a trade in order to acquire more assets. The thinking is that they wouldn't want a player on the roster who couldn't contribute to winning. It is unknown if they'd take back a player with large contract and one year remaining on his deal in a salary dump.
The Knicks also don't plan to commit long-term money to a player that isn't on the list of their top targets. If they miss out on their top targets, the Knicks are more likely to pursue short-term contracts to maintain cap flexibility.
This is basically what Mills and GM Scott Perry have communicated since taking over -- a patient approach and spending money if they see fit.
But the Knicks made several moves leading up to free agency (not extending Kristaps Porzingis rookie deal, waiving and stretching Joakim Noah, the Porzingis trade) to create enough cap space to land two free agents and owner James Dolan said in an ESPN Radio interview late in the season that he felt the Knicks would have a strong offseason based on what they were hearing from people around the league. Because of that - and the moves made in advance of this summer - expectations were raised for New York regarding this summer's free agency.
At the time, there was reason for that optimism because Durant was expected to strongly consider the Knicks if he decided to leave Golden State. But Durant's Achilles injury is a bit of a complicating factor. Irving signing with New York also seemed like a strong possibility during the season. But teams in pursuit of Irving are currently under the impression that the Brooklyn Nets are the odds-on favorite to land the point guard.