Now – with Kawhi Leonard considering the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers – the Knicks are trying to control the narrative about their pursuit of him. Leonard and the Knicks didn’t even meet despite the team’s confidence it’d get a meeting.
According to a source, Leonard agreed to meet with the Knicks, but not until Wednesday after finishing with the Clippers and Lakers.
That plan was scratched by Knicks’ brass over logistics.
The Knicks had spent almost all of their $70 million cap space in the first 20 hours of free agency, knowing if they waited until the Leonard meeting Wednesday, the players they did sign could be off the market. It was too big a risk, knowing they likely would finish fourth behind the Raptors, Lakers and Clippers.
I think the Knicks are correct: Leonard almost certainly wouldn’t have picked them. Best we can tell, Leonard likes winning and the West Coast and dislikes the spotlight. New York fits none of those parameters.
But it’s not as if the Knicks pivoted to some great plan by not waiting on Leonard. They’re instead signing Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson, Wayne Ellington and Elfrid Payton to expensive, but at least short, contracts. That underwhelming collection of players will likely lead to another losing season. If one or two become keepers or get traded for positive value, that’d be nice.
Chasing Leonard would have offered far more upside. He could’ve immediately vaulted New York into a strong playoff team.
But, again, it seems highly unlikely the Knicks would’ve landed Leonard.
So, it’s amusing to watch the Knicks spin like this. Their offseason went poorly.
That probably would have been the case whether or not they met with Leonard.