Will the Knicks be an appealing franchise for top free agents?

Jaime C. Harris | 1/31/2019, 12:49 p.m.
Clearly Davis, who will turn 26 in March, above all else, particularly money, deeply desires to win a title.

When Rich Paul, the agent for Anthony Davis, informed a reporter from ESPN that his prized client was seeking a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, many followers of the NBA speculated as to whether the Knicks are a viable option. The logical answer is why would Davis, a three-time First-Team All-NBA star, want to join a franchise that has not won a playoff series since the 2012-13 season, has missed the playoffs for the past five seasons and had the worst record in the NBA at 10-39 when they hosted the Dallas Mavericks at Madison Square Garden last night (Wednesday)?

Clearly Davis, who will turn 26 in March, above all else, particularly money, deeply desires to win a title. He is on his second contract with the Pelicans and can be the recipient of a five-year, $240 million max-contract extension from the organization in the summer of 2020. That’s $90 million more than any other team can pay him under the NBA’s salary structure. Note: The league fined Davis $50,000 Tuesday “for violating a collectively bargained rule prohibiting players or their representatives from making public trade demands.”

The talk surrounding Davis and the Knicks as a possible destination for him has elicited genuine concerns among Knicks fans, who are now wondering what major free agent whose primary goal is playing for a playoff and/or championship contender will consider signing with the team this summer or beyond if they don’t perceive the franchise to be making significant strides.

Are Porzingis, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Frank Ntilikina, Allonso Trier and whoever the Knicks draft in June enough to entice an elite free agent? Can the trio of head coach Dave Fizdale, general manager Scott Perry and team president Steve Mills convince an impact player to become a cornerstone of their rebuilding process?

“We’re not going to panic. This is our plan. This is part of our deal,” Fizdale said to reporters in Charlotte Monday, where the Knicks lost their 10th game in a row, falling 101-92 to the Hornets. “We came out of the gates trying to get off to a really good start…and see if we [could] make some noise. That didn’t work out and now we’re in the second phase of it.”

Knicks fans are well beyond the second phase of questioning where their team is headed.