Keidel: Just Because They Have Cap Space Doesn't Mean Knicks Must Spend It

Jason Keidel
June 18, 2019 - 11:03 am
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If you've ever seen the ESPN documentary, "Broke," which details the scalp-scratching exploits of athletes who blow eight-figure fortunes a few years after they retire, you learn that just because you have money, it doesn't mean you have to spend it.

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In that vein, the Knicks cleared all kinds of cap space, giving them the most money to burn in the NBA ($72 million). But just because they have it, they should not feel compelled to spend it in unsavory ways. And now that Anthony Davis is no longer a tasty hardwood option, the Knicks should seriously consider the idea that this is not the dreamy summer they so wanted.

The Lakers came to the Pelicans with a biblical bounty of players and draft picks, making it literally an offer New Orleans couldn't refuse, and thus removing the second of three transcendent talents the Knicks wanted on their squad. The first, Kevin Durant, popped his Achilles tendon in the NBA Finals, making him useless for next season. Then Davis dropped off the list. So if the Knicks don't get Kawhi Leonard, then perhaps they should just keep the quid and wait, rather than waste their cash on marginal players whose values have been puffed up by a drying market.

Between June 6-7, there were myriad reports that the Knicks were secretly pining for Leonard's services. Yet it's been such a silent operation that we haven't heard about it since. Were the Knicks just feeding the fumes of rumor that darken the air around this time of year? If they are serious about Leonard, we'd love to hear more about it. They were also allegedly smitten with Davis, yet didn't even make a formal offer.

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Provided the Knicks can't land Leonard - and there's little about the Knicks or NYC that seems to fit Leonard's modest mien - the worst thing they can do is stalk Durant while he's in a wheelchair, or on crutches, or with a bulging boot over his right foot. Paying Durant to rehab for a year is not a sign of prudence or patience. It would prove they are still woefully inept. Durant would likely be 32 when he returns to the court, and be paid over $30 or $40 million a year for his hindered, athletic twilight.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant sits on the court after an apparent injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors on June 10, 2019, in Toronto.
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Images

It's not the Knicks' fault that Durant suffered a serious injury. It's not the Knicks' fault they don't have the Lakers' drooling desire to offer everything they have for Davis. Nor is it on them that Kyrie Irving has all but forwarded his mail to Barclays Center.

But it would be the Knicks' fault if they pretend that Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler or Julius Randle are formidable replacements. The Houston Astros didn't build their perennial contenders with reckless spending splurges, but rather by cultivating a fertile farm system. Or, to keep it in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors didn't build their dynasty by poaching Durant; they crafted it by drafting Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Knicks fans are tired of the "wait till next year" mantra. But even worse would be to sign another Carmelo Anthony contract or Joakim Noah's toxic, $72 million deal during the Phil Jackson experiment. If the Knicks have truly evolved, then they won't double-down on the mistakes that got them to a 17-65 record and praying for high-end lottery picks.  

Just because the Knicks have Tony Montana money doesn't mean they need the mansion, the tiger chained to their backyard, the souped-up cars or the NASA-level security systems. The Knicks - a supposedly stable team finally run by adults - are allowed to build a good club, not buy one.  

Twitter: @JasonKeidel