Although the New York Knicks struck out on this free agent class's top talent, they will have more opportunities to scoop up a star going forward. Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook were two elite point guards on the trade market, with the former possibly still available. The price may be too steep and the prize too old for the Knicks, but they won't have to wait long for another chance.
As part of Kevin Durant's signing with the Brooklyn Nets, New York's rival team sent the Golden State Warriors PG D'Angelo Russell, who was signed to a max deal coming off his first All-Star season. While the southpaw scorer will be useful filling in during Klay Thompson's absence, he's an awkward long-term fit, and is rumored to be on the trading block come December 15, when newly signed players can be dealt.
Should the Knicks look to trade for him when that time comes?
It will likely take a hefty price to acquire Russell. The Minnesota Timberwolves were pursuing him hard this summer, and 23-year-old All-Stars locked in for the foreseeable future don't come around often. A New York package would probably look something like Dennis Smith Jr., Marcus Morris, Wayne Ellington and one or two first-round picks with some protections. A deal like this is partly what the Knicks signed Morris and Ellington for, but having to give up future picks could be a dealbreaker.
Another holdup would be Smith Jr., one of New York's top prospects and two years younger than Russell. We now know he's been reworking his jumper, a key barrier to his early career success at this level, and it's worth seeing how he's improved before shipping him away. If he's yet to impress by December, the conversation gets a bit easier.
The main argument for pursuing Russell is securing the star player the Knicks have failed to acquire time and time again. He's developed with each passing season, and could be the first or second option on a championship team if that continues.
In the pick-and-roll happy NBA of 2019, Russell is built for a modern offense, with a dizzying array of moves and fakes when we weaves off a ball screen, jumper to keep defenders honest, and passing ability that helped turn Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll into a postseason rotation. He's still working on that defense, and finishing in the paint may forever be a struggle in the playoffs, but the Knicks haven't had someone of his caliber since Kristaps Porzingis.
Who's to say there's a better option for the Knicks? This free agency was a big whiff, future ones aren't looking any more promising and Russell would immediately become a franchise centerpiece. The flip side is diving in headfirst, giving up assets and sacrificing flexibility at the first sight of a potential headline-grabber.
New York was faced with some tough decisions throughout this offseason, many of which will determine the direction of this franchise as the rebuild progresses. But there are still many a choice to be made for this front office in hoping to reclaim the Knicks' starburst.
Do they take a shot at the first enticing consolation prize, or stick with their guns?