Adding to the disappointment from the summer of 2019, Kawhi Leonard recently told reporters that he never considered the New York Knicks.
The New York Knicks already lost the first game of their current four-game West Coast trip. Adding insult to injury, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported that Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard had no interest in becoming a Knick during free agency.
“I never said I was considering going to the Knicks,” said Leonard, whose Clippers host the Knicks on Sunday afternoon. “Everybody knows where I wanted to go when I requested a trade so I don’t where that came from.”
Fans will remember that president of basketball operations Steve Mills made the claim that the Knicks were happy with the way they built the team during the summer and that they had multiple “max-type players” that were interested in the orange and blue.
Steve Mills says there were a lot of max players the Knicks could have met with pic.twitter.com/v8zM4zPh2f
— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) September 30, 2019
Of course, the Knicks missed out on prized free-agent superstars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Nonetheless, their plan B, at least in theory, was not a terrible back-up plan. And while results have largely been underwhelming, there are reasons to show encouragement.
A lot has transpired since the summer of 2019. The Knicks, despite their recent loss, have been taking small steps towards improving as a team. Interim head coach Mike Miller has been at the forefront of that development, but it’s unclear how long this will last or how prospective free agents will look at the Knicks during the summer of 2020.
The idea that the Knicks have prioritized controlling the narrative instead of growing their basketball club is nothing new. The divorce from Kristaps Porzingis and the moments leading up to the firing of David Fizdale all had a cover-up feeling attached to them.
So while the team’s recent success may provide some brief joy, Leonard’s comments serve as a reminder that the Knicks still have a ways to go in terms of being heavily considered by the NBA’s elite talent.