Knicks Rumors: NY 'Appear Likely' to Get Kawhi Leonard Meeting in Free Agency

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2019

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 17:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors holds the MVP trophy during the Toronto Raptors Victory Parade on June 17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. The Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 4-2 to win the 2019 NBA Finals.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto Raptors may be the favorites to land Kawhi Leonard this summer in free agency, but the New York Knicks are at least in the conversation.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, "a source with knowledge of the Knicks' plans said they appear likely to get a meeting with Leonard."

That follows a report from Frank Isola of The Athletic that the Knicks would get meetings with both Leonard and Kevin Durant:

Frank Isola @TheFrankIsola

When free agency starts the Knicks are expecting to have meetings with Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard before heading to Los Angeles to meet with what are considered second tier free agents. The countdown begins...

And ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said during last week's NBA draft that while the Clippers and Raptors were the top contenders to sign Leonard, he was also expected to potentially take meetings with the Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets.

Drew Corrigan @Dcorrigan50


Different teams can make intriguing pitches to Leonard.

The Raptors just won a championship and arguably would be favorites to repeat if Leonard returned. The Clippers have another max slot to add a second star alongside Leonard and have long been the favorites to sign him, given he's from the area.

Philadelphia has young superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, provided the Raptors with their toughest test this postseason and have a coach in Brett Brown that Leonard previously worked with in San Antonio. And the Nets have a solid young roster, and Kyrie Irving's signing appears to be a foregone conclusion at this point.

What about the Knicks?

Well, the Knicks can offer a second max slot to add another star and the biggest market in the country, if that's the sort of thing Leonard cares about. What the Knicks can't offer Leonard is a playoff-ready roster around him like the other teams on this list.

Granted, New York might be more inclined to move some of their young assets for another star if Leonard and another free agent chose the Knicks. Perhaps the team could get Kevin Love from the Cleveland Cavaliers, for instance. 

Still, Leonard's free agency feels like a two-team race between the Raptors and Clippers. Amick reported that "Clippers sources [are] still hopeful that he'll be willing to switch jerseys in spite of all this Raptors success," adding that Jimmy Butler could join him in Los Angeles:

"There are many scenarios seemingly in play, but sources say one in particular looks increasingly possible: Butler teaming up with Leonard on the Clippers. There are strong indications that Leonard is interested in having Butler as a running mate, and it's the sort of powerful pairing that would certainly vault the Clippers into contention."

It's hard to believe anything this time of year, though. Plenty of ulterior motives are zipping around like neutrons in motion in a nuclear reactor, all while fans refresh their Twitter timelines desperate for the next Woj bomb. 

One thing is for certain: Leonard's ultimate decision will create such a bomb, and one that will transform the landscape of the NBA. The Knicks are hoping the aftermath will include Leonard in New York. It's a long shot, but there's just enough noise about the Knicks at least getting a meeting that they can't be ruled out just yet.