On Monday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported the Knicks plan to "punt" their over $70 million in space under the salary cap to the 2020 NBA offseason if they're unable to land at least one of the Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard, Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant or Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving.
Before the May 28 draft lottery, the Knicks were staring down a summer with the potential to reshape their roster with the additions of Durant, Irving and Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson.
They didn't win the lottery, instead sliding down to No. 3, where they selected Williamson's Duke teammate RJ Barrett, and their free-agent outlook has become far more cloudy.
Durant's status is uncertain after he suffered a ruptured Achilles in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals, which could force him to miss the entirety of next season, and Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the Brooklyn Nets "strongly believe they are the frontrunners" for Irving.
The Knicks were always viewed as an underdog to the Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers in the Leonard sweepstakes, and Marc Berman of the New York Post reported they remain "long shots" in that pursuit.
So, although a lot can still change over the next couple weeks, it's possible New York comes away with Barrett as their only new franchise cornerstone this offseason.
While he's a promising building block, he's not enough to completely transform the franchise's fortunes by himself. And it sounds like the Knicks would rather endure another subpar season, secure another high spot in the lottery and take their chances next summer than surround him with second-tier options.
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Durant seems like the most likely addition at this stage, so signing the 10-time All-Star selection and letting him sit out all of the 2019-20 campaign while letting Barrett gain a year of experience as the unquestioned top option may be the best outcome.
That would probably lead to the Knicks getting another top prospect from next year's draft while maintaining financial flexibility for a prized free agent next summer.