Steve Mills Scott Perry
AP Photo

The New York Knicks missed out on the biggest names in free agency, but Steve Mills is excited about the way this team is built.

Danny Small

The New York Knicks whiffed in free agency this summer by missing out on the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Kawhi Leonard. There were no meetings with Durant or Irving and by the time Leonard was ready to meet with teams, the Knicks had executed Plan B.

At media day on Monday, team president Steve Mills was asked why superstars didn’t want to meet with the Knicks.

“You’ll have to talk to those players about why they made the decisions that they made,” Mills told reporters .”But there were a lot of max-type players that we could have met with, that were interested in coming here. We had a certain way we wanted to build this team and this is how we chose to build it.”


The Knicks positioned themselves to be major players of 2019 free agency, but didn’t land the marquee names. Stretching Joakim Noah‘s contract and trading away Kristaps Porzingis were both done, in part, to clear enough salary-cap space for two max players.

Perhaps there were other “max-type players” the Knicks could have met with, but the fact of the matter is they ended up pivoting to Plan B.

However, the quick pivot leaves the team in a good place moving forward. They have a bunch of proven veterans signed to short-term, flexible contracts. General manager Scott Perry pointed out that the veterans they signed were in high demand on the market.

“The guys that we did sign, these guys had multiple options as well,” Perry added to Mills’ statement. “These guys are very good basketball players, accomplished basketball players and they saw this an opportunity to really contribute to a place that has a chance to win.”

The Knicks have a lot to prove this season and it’s probably best that the summer of 2019 is behind them. Head coach David Fizdale has more collective talent to work with this season.

The worst-to-first dreams for the Knicks will go unrealized, but it’s clear that the front office and coaching staff are ready to win this season. No one from the Knicks brain trust is willing to put any set expectations on the team’s record this season. That’s understandable.

Although there’s nothing specific, the mandate from the top down seems to be about competition. The influx of proven veterans means the young guys are going to have to compete for playing time. The belief is that the intra-squad competition will translate to success an 82-game NBA season.

In order for the Knicks to become an attractive trade destination in the future, they’ll have to become a competitive team in the Eastern Conference in the present.

If the Knicks are a cellar-dweller for another season, it’s going to be hard to look at the summer of 2019 as anything but a failure that puts the team back at square one.



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