Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Here's where things stand as we approach the start of free agency:
The Knicks still feel they are in the running for Kevin Durant. Durant and Kawhi Leonard have reportedly explored opportunities to play together. The Nets, Clippers and Knicks are the two teams who have enough cap space to sign both players. The Nets are expected to sign Kyrie Irving, so that takes them off the list. It doesn't seem like New York has a strong chance at landing Leonard, but people around Leonard do see the Knicks as a potential destination for the NBA Finals MVP.
It's unclear if the Knicks will meet with Leonard. New York expects to have an audience with Durant, SNY sources confirm. ESPN said Durant is expected to communicate with the Nets, Clippers and Warriors as well.
Something worth noting on Durant: several executives monitoring the Durant situation don't believe Durant would be interested in being seen as someone who followed another player to a team. Assuming Brooklyn agrees quickly to a deal with Irving and Durant and did so subsequently, the narrative could be shaped that Durant was following Irving to Brooklyn.
As far as other names go: New York continues to have significant interest in Julius Randle. Execs monitoring Randle's situation on Saturday believed that the Knicks were in strong position to land Randle. For those reading the tea leaves: one team expected to have a meeting with Randle early in free agency, but that meeting is not expected to take place, per sources. It's unclear why the meeting won't take place, but it's not a huge leap to think that it's connected to the Knicks' strong interest in Randle. New York also has interest in restricted free agent Bobby Portis, sources say.
The Knicks would prefer to sign players like Randle, Portis - and any other free agent who isn't at the top of their list - to short-term deals to maintain future flexibility.
New York also has strong interest in Terry Rozier, but the club has competition. SNY sources confirm that Charlotte and Phoenix also have interest in Rozier. That interest, which was first reported by The Athletic and the Charlotte Observer, respectively, could complicate the Knicks' pursuit of Rozier. Several teams with interest in Rozier believed on Saturday night that Phoenix was in a solid position to land the guard.
Other names to keep an eye on: New York and Reggie Bullock have mutual interest, per SNY sources. Bullock, a 6-7 G/F and career 39 percent 3-point shooter, is expected to have several suitors. The Knicks have interest in big man Robin Lopez, SNY sources confirm. Lopez could be a strong mentor for young center Mitchell Robinson. The veteran center played for the Knicks in 2015-16 before being shipped to Chicago in the Derrick Rose trade. The Knicks' interest in Lopez was first reported by The Athletic.The Knicks also have interest in veterans George Hill and Wayne Ellington, per SNY sources. Both veterans could bolster the club's backcourt and are expected to have interest from multiple teams. Hill is a versatile player who could mentor the Knicks' young backcourt. Ellington is a career 38 percent 3-point shooter.
Another player New York will keep an eye on if it fails to sign its top targets: James Ennis, per SNY sources, who will also have interest from the Sixers. New York also has some interest in signing DeMarcus Cousins on a one-year deal, as the New York Times first reported, but members of the organization prioritize younger players ahead of Cousins, per SNY sources.
Teams can begin to meet with free agents at 6 PM on Sunday.