Ever since last offseason, Kyrie Irving has voiced his desire to play for a team close to his hometown of West Orange, New Jersey. Although the state once had an NBA team, they are now residing in Brooklyn, with a team filled with young talent and plenty of cap space. However, when talking about THE team from New York, it is hard to put the Nets over their neighbors across the East River. With a clear-cut All-Star at full health in Porzingis, rising stars in Ntilikina and Knox, and one of the most respected coaches around the league in Fizdale, the Knicks are once again a premier destination for free agents.
The Knicks are certainly in a good place to add a player of Irving’s caliber next year. With Enes Kanter, Ron Baker, and Emmanuel Mudiay all playing on expiring contracts, the Knicks are in line to have two max-contract slots available. This comes with the condition that the Knicks can find someone to take on Courtney Lee’s $12M, but the Knicks have reportedly already been looking for suitors. Another issue could arise with Tim Hardaway Jr’s massive four year, $71M through 2021. Of course, both of these contracts were organized by the Phil Jackson Knicks, a team that should have no correlation with what the Knicks are trying to become now. Nonetheless, as long as management can perform their duties of leaving as much money available to bring in stars, New York should be able to acquire a much needed piece to play alongside Porzingis.
The Nets, on the other hand, are just now concluding their end of the deal with the Boston Celtics centered around the Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry trade all the way back in 2013. With their final pick being used by the Cavs to select G Collin Sexton at number eight, the Nets have learned their lesson to never break the bank for players past their prime. Now, they have a former 2nd overall pick in D’Angelo Russell, a steal from last year’s draft in Jarrett Allen, and the previously mentioned cap space that makes them contenders to sign anyone they want. Plus, something Brooklyn has that the Knicks do not is lack of long-term commitment. Jarrett Allen is the only player that is signed through the 2020-21 season, meaning the team is likely to be completely remodeled by then.
As for Kyrie, it is still unsure what he is trying to gain out of potentially leaving the best team in the Eastern Conference. Not only that, an extremely young team with a coach that can get the most out of every single player on any given night. Considering this team was one game away from playing in the NBA Finals last year without its two best players, it is hard to see why Kyrie would decide to abandon all that. Then again, this is the same man that demanded a trade from the best player of this generation, so nothing is out of the picture. If the thought of playing “with a big man like Porzingis” really entices Irving enough, it may not be long until the duo brings Madison Square Garden back to its Starks-Ewing days.