Tobias Harris
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Knicks have high aspirations this summer, but if they miss on their top targets, they should avoid these fallback plans.

The New York Knicks have the ability to sign two free agents to max deals this summer. It’s both exciting and terrifying. On one hand, it gives them the ability to acquire both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving; two proven superstars who have played a key role in the winning of championships.

But on the other hand, it also gives them the ability to freak out if they strike out on these superstars, and instead sign borderline All-Stars to large, long deals. So here is a list of those borderline All-Stars and why the Knicks should avoid them.

Nikola Vucevic

I’ve already touched on why Nikola Vucevic would be a horrible decision for the Knicks, but I’ll just go over it again. Vucevic is a great player for a sub-par team. In a mid-March regular season game, when teams aren’t specifically game planning for the Orlando Magic, Nikola puts up great numbers. On the season, Vucevic averaged 20.8 points and 12.0 rebounds per game on 51/36/79 shooting splits. That’s incredible efficiency. But come playoff time, it all goes south.

Opponents now have multiple days to gameplan against him and in this year’s playoffs, he was rendered useless. Guarded mainly by 34-year-old Marc Gasol, Vucevic averaged 11.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on 36/23/78 shooting. Those are disgraceful numbers.

If the Magic had any sort of viable option off the bench, he likely would have been benched. And it’s not as if the Raptors were throwing crazy defenses or double teams at him. They literally just told Marc Gasol to handle it and he made Nikola look like a little schoolboy. At this point, if the Knicks offered him a max deal, they would be committing playoff suicide.

Tobias Harris

I like Tobias Harris‘ game. But he’s had a very strange season. During his time with the Clippers, it seemed that Harris was carrying the load offensively (20.9 PPG, 49/43/87 shooting) and the reason they were still competing for a playoff spot. In fact, it seemed like the Clippers thought that too. Their midseason trade that shipped Tobias off to Philadelphia could only be described as an attempt at lessening the roster in order to improve their lottery chances.

But then the Clippers somehow improved post-trade. Landry Shamet proved to be a great pickup and Lou Williams was putting his extra shots to good use, making a push for his third Sixth Man of the Year award. The team even went on to take two games of the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference playoffs.

As for Harris’ fit with the 76ers, it has been awkward. Philadelphia weirdly brought Harris on as a fourth option, basically rendering him a catch-and-shoot player. And for a guy that was shooting 43% prior to the trade, you think would be fine. But Harris struggled to find his groove without the ball constantly in his hands and shot just 32% from deep. Not ideal.

Honestly, it sort of feels like Harris needs the ball in his hands to be effective, but he’s also not good enough to be ball dominant. So it puts teams in this weird predicament where a team will have to offer him close to the max but there’s also a good chance he won’t properly fit in if it’s a team that’s looking to contend. And if the Knicks are serious about competing for a championship, a three or four-year deal worth over $90 million to a player like Tobias is probably not the way to go.

Brook Lopez

Someone is going to overpay Brook Lopez. There has been so much talk about how Brook Lopez did a complete 180-degree turn on his game and went from a low-post scorer to a stretch big in just one offseason. I mean, he has shot a lot of threes this season and has hit them at a fairly high clip, but the transformation is overblown.

This season, Lopez shot 6.3 threes per game and made 36.5% of them. But the two years prior, on average, Brook shot 4.8 threes per game and hit 34.5% of them. So basically, Brook is likely going to go from a one-year, $3.3 million dollar contract to somewhere around a two-year, $22 million dollar contract because he shot 1.5 more threes per game and made them at a slightly higher clip. Maybe it’s just me, but that seems a bit odd.

So basically, the Knicks just need to not completely freak out and start making panic deals if their top targets pass on them. No one would blame them for not getting Kevin Durant to leave the greatest team ever assembled or not getting Kyrie Irving to choose them over LeBron James; his former teammate that he won a championship alongside. The blame would only come if they gave long-term contracts worth a lot of money to players that will only bring them a playoff birth.