NEW YORK -- Another target is lost and the Summer of the Knicks is shaping up as another letdown.
You may have heard of all kinds of permutations of the Knicks' resurrection over the course of last season, the photoshops of Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Anthony Davis in New York uniforms.
Williamson was crossed off first. Then Durant (for at least next season). And now Davis.
The Knicks were on Davis' two-team wish list and his agent even made that public, backing up New York's confidence that he'll re-sign in the summer as a free agent.
But three things happened:
1) The Knicks didn't have enough players to make a competitive offer to the Pelicans. As the Daily News reported, New Orleans wasn't a fan of Kevin Knox, the No. 9 overall pick from last year.
2) The Lakers were desperate to strike a deal with time expiring on LeBron James' superstardom, so they opened the treasure chest. The final deal for the Pelicans was a haul: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, the No. 4 overall pick this year and two other first-round picks. There were also reports of the Lakers forking over swap rights to other draft picks, meaning the Pelicans will own the rights to their picks for six or seven years.
3) Durant tore his ACL and momentum built toward Irving signing in Brooklyn, souring New York's appetite to break the bank for Davis. The trade made the most sense if it put the Knicks on a path toward immediate contention. But Davis by himself had a second-round ceiling in New Orleans.
The Knicks own several future draft picks -- including the third overall pick this month -- but being the worst team in the NBA has a price. The value of the roster is poor despite the franchise's efforts to push Knox and Mitchell Robinson as future All-Stars. This is why drafting right and developing right and winning games actually matters.
Over the previous four years, the Knicks have had the No. 4 pick, the No. 8 pick and the No. 9 pick. Today, that translates to Knox and Frank Ntilikina. New York's best asset on the roster is probably Robinson, who was drafted in the second round last year. The Knicks tried to acquire Davis by dangling Kristaps Porzingis before the February deadline, but at the time New Orleans was happy holding on to its star until the summer. Since then, the Pelicans restructured their front office by replacing GM Dell Demps with President David Griffin.
The Knicks, meanwhile, traded Porzingis in a salary dump that also recouped two protected first-round picks. The deal keeps looking worse and worse as the summer approaches. In his previous two summers in charge, team president Steve Mills has signed the following three players to deals totaling $87 million -- Tim Hardaway Jr., Ron Baker and Mario Hezonja. Now he has about $70 million to spend this summer, and the path toward immediate success keeps getting bleaker.
For the Lakers, the move puts them in immediate title contention and still leaves them with the flexibility to chase a max free agent. It's a good time to go all-in -- especially in the Western Conference -- because the Warriors are depleted. The Lakers can also offer free agents something the Knicks cannot -- a chance to win.
For the Pelicans, the deal sets them up for a bright future with Williamson as the centerpiece.
For the Knicks? Who knows. As before the trade, their future is based on hypotheticals that keep crashing. The best move is to draft RJ Barrett this week and hope he turns into a star.
The New York Knicks were on Anthony Davis’ wish list, but the Los Angeles Lakers acquired the All-Star forward on Saturday from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Sports on 06/17/2019
Print Headline: Knicks' summer looks like a downer