Published May 15, 2019
By William Whisler
For months, the rumors swirled about how 2019 was going to finally be the year that the New York Knicks would have the opportunity to turn things around.
The Knicks were going to win the Draft Lottery, select Zion Williamson and then sign either Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant — or both — and emerge from the bottom of the Eastern Conference into perennial title contenders.
After an unlucky bounce similar to what the Sixers faced when Kawhi Leonard knocked down a seemingly impossible shot to send the Raptors into the Eastern Conference Finals, the Knicks now must pivot quickly to decide how to handle falling to the No. 3 pick in the NBA Draft.
Williamson will be the top pick — there is no doubt about that. What will happen in the coming month will center around the NBA Draft and which teams will look to flip their pick for the Pelican’s Anthony Davis.
All is not lost for the New York Knicks however. RJ Barrett is still a future All-Star and a player that can help elevate the Knicks out of the basement in the East. Barrett did average 22.6 points per game along with Williamson and he was a better facilitator on the floor.
Losing the Draft Lottery hurts the Knicks because they can no longer offer the Pelicans the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, however if the Pelicans select Williamson, the Knicks can offer the Pelicans the No. 3 overall pick to select either Ja Morant or RJ Barrett, along with young assets like Kevin Knox and Dennis Smith, Jr. for Davis.
The Lakers are now in prime position as well, as they can offer the No. 4 overall pick along with a wealth of young talent including Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and others for Davis.
The Pelicans did decline a trade by the Lakers at the deadline for Davis that include those three assets and much more, leading to some questions on if Davis would be moved to Los Angeles, but a pairing with LeBron James would be ideal for the team and the league — the NBA Playoff ratings are down 18 percent without LeBron in the playoffs, per USA Today. The Pelicans would in return, have a young core centered around the highest anticipated rookie since James.
There is still the option that the Pelicans will attempt to convince Davis to stay in New Orleans, but at this point, he’s as good as gone. I do not see any chance that Davis stays. Davis is ready for his chance to compete for an NBA Championship and this free agency cycle allows him the best opportunity to create his own super team, with Leonard, Irving, Durant, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton and others all set to hit the market.
The NBA rebirth has in large-part been because of the draw of free agency and how teams can invest a lot of money into creating teams full of stars to battle against the Golden State Warriors. The groundwork is set now — the next month will reveal a changing of the guard.
Will Durant, Irving and Leonard move on? Where will they end up? Will Davis get flipped?
My best guess says that the Golden State Warriors must make a choice this offseason to keep either Durant or Thompson. I do not think there is much of a chance that both return. Irving on the other hand, is as good as gone. Leonard maybe stays if the Raptors win the title but he has expressed his interest in playing in Los Angeles close to home.
At this point, the offseason may be better than the culmination of the NBA Finals. Look for some major shakeups. If I had to guess…
Anthony Davis will play in Los Angeles next season along with Leonard, whether it is with the Lakers or the Clippers.
William Whisler is a columnist for PennSports.LIVE, as well as a 2018 graduate of Shippensburg University. Whisler served for three years as the sports editor of Shippensburg University’s student-run newspaper, The Slate, where he specialized as the beat writer for SU football and the SU men’s basketball team. Whisler has written for multiple publications including the Lewistown Sentinel, the Shippensburg News-Chronicle and The Gettysburg Times. Whisler is currently pursuing a master’s degree in communication studies at Shippensburg.