By Mark Strotman | | 4 mins
Knicks’ Title Odds Crater After NBA Free Agency Misses
There was a time in the not-too-distant past the New York Knicks fans dreamt of a three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Zion Williamson. For a while it felt destined to happen. But just a few short months later, the entire script has been reversed.
New York fell to No. 3 in the Lottery, Durant and Irving chose to play together but picked the team across the bridge, and the Knicks were left to pick up the scraps from Day 1 of free agency.
In fact, it was so bad that team president Steve Mills released a statement expressing his disappointment midway through the night.
Statement from Knicks president Steve Mills: pic.twitter.com/2GnBHHmvT6— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 1, 2019
The result? The Knicks' 2020 NBA championship odds cratered. Oddsmakers weren’t all that confident in New York’s free agency chances, as they headed into this past weekend with +5400 odds to win the 2020 title.
Those odds dipped further to +6000 on the morning of free agency on Sunday, and by the time the dust settled on a wild first night, the Knicks are now listed at +15000 on 888Sport to dethrone the Toronto Raptors, tied for sixth longest in the league.
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Knicks Scrape Barrel on Bigs, Shooters
The Knicks salvaged losing Durant and Irving by agreeing to a three-year deal with power forward Julius Randle. It was obviously Plan B for New York, but they could have done worse than a 24-year-old coming off a 21-point-per-game season.
That was where the good news ended. After agreeing to the Randle deal, the Knicks added two more power forwards in Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis. They added two shooters in Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock, using up all $65 million of cap space that could have gone to two max players, on five rotation guys.
They didn’t overpay, and only Randle’s contract is longer than two years – so they have flexibility in the next few years – but it was a far cry from what Knicks fans expected a few months back. Their title odds are shot and will be until the summer of 2021, the next time they can get back into the mix for max free agents.
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Knicks open as Las Vegas Summer League favorites
It's no real consolation, but the Knicks are favored to win the 2019 Summer League. They’ll roll out an impressive group of young talent, headlined by Duke’s R.J. Barrett, who the Knicks took third overall last month. But he won’t be alone. Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox, rookies from a year ago, as well as Allonzo Trier and Frank Ntilikina.
Robinson averaged 2.4 blocks per game as a rookie and Knox averaged 13.7 points per game after the All-Star break. Trier and Ntilikina are established NBA players, giving the Knicks by far the most talented starting lineup in Las Vegas this week.
Over Before Free Agency Began
Falling to No. 3 and losing Zion Williamson hurt, but the Knicks had just a 14.3% chance of landing the top pick. They figured their odds were much higher to convince Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Kawhi Leonard – or any two-man combination – to join the bright lights of New York City.
As expected, Durant and Irving did team up and did want to play in New York. Only, news broke an hour before free agency officially started that they had chosen the Brooklyn Nets instead. Durant will miss all of next season with a torn Achilles, but the addition of Irving and DeAndre Jordan shortened Brooklyn’s 2020 title odds from +2700 to +2000.