The New York Knicks have been the laughingstock of the league for nearly two decades and every year, their fans experience sheer disappointment. New York is known as the “Mecca” of basketball and every year; they are linked to all of the top free agents.
Despite many efforts, they always miss out on the top free agents and in this article, we are going to look at the top free agents that they missed out on in the past decade.
LeBron James (2010)
The Decision in 2010 has shaped the league that we see today and LBJ’s decision is the biggest free agency move in NBA history. After losing to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, LeBron had a huge decision to make. His first stint in Cleveland could be seen as underwhelming as they were unable to win a championship during his first seven years there.
In 2010, LeBron was seen as, arguably, the best player in the league. Coming off back-to-back MVPs and entering free agency being able to sign wherever he pleased for the first time in his career, many teams were ready to go after LeBron James. One of those teams was the New York Knicks and LeBron was very close to signing with them.
The Knicks are the “Mecca of Basketball”, and their popularity intrigued LeBron. They also had Amar'e Stoudemire and, even as he was aging, he was still a productive NBA player. They also had a newly drafted player in Jordan Hill who, at the time, was projected to be a great NBA center and many assets they could have used to acquire more talent.
Despite a strong attempt, LeBron opted to sign with the Miami Heat instead and the rest was history. The Knicks would end up trading for Carmelo Anthony in the following season and despite having some success with him, Melo’s time with the Knicks was drama-filed and was not as good as many people may have expected.
If LeBron would have signed with the Knicks, a duo of him and Carmelo surrounded by nice pieces could have won championships in New York and would have changed how people view the Knicks today.
Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving (2019)
The 2019 offseason was supposed to be the one that turned the Knicks franchise around for good. They made the brave decision to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks to get out of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee’s contracts. This trade then gave them the ability to go out and sign two top free agents to max deals.
Not only were they looking to add top free agents, but they also had the best odds at the Number one overall pick during the NBA draft lottery and if they had gotten the first overall pick, they would have certainly selected Zion Williamson.
Their plans would quickly be foiled as they would end up with the 3rd overall pick and select RJ Barrett. Once free agency rolled around, it looked like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were looking to join forces and play together. That meant that any team that looked to sign them had to have enough cap space to do so.
The Knicks did not have much of a shot, if any at all, to sign Kawhi Leonard as it looked like he was either going to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors or join one of the L.A. teams. That meant that the Knicks’ only shot back to stardom was to land both Kyrie and KD. Shortly after free agency started, everyone quickly found out that both KD and Kyrie decided to NOT join the Knicks.
What added insult to injury was that they both decided to join the other team in New York, the Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks look to be multiple years away from contending for a playoff spot and if they want to lure top free agents, they must form an identity and have some stability in that front office. The 2021 free agency class is looking like it is going to be an amazing one and the Knicks are a team expected to be active during then.
This will more than likely be the last “good” free agency class that we have for some time and it will take a lot of convincing from the Knicks for them to land a top guy.