Monday night may very well have changed the New York Knicks’ approach in free agency this summer, as their main target, Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant, suffered what is believed to be a torn Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Obviously, if it is true that Durant has torn his Achilles (and it seems to be the case), the two-time Finals MVP could miss all of next season, as Achilles tears come with an incredibly long rehabilitation period.
That means that the Knicks may very well turn their attention elsewhere this offseason.
Here are three other options for New York to look at in free agency if it decides not to pursue the Durant and Kyrie Irving dream.
3. Tobias Harris
Going from Durant to Tobias Harris is certainly, well, different, but the Knicks may not have much of a choice.
New York has pursued Harris in the past, and being that Harris is from New York, he may be pretty open to joining the Knicks.
No, he is not a superstar and has never even made an All-Star team, but he is still a fine scorer capable of getting buckets from just about anywhere on the floor.
The biggest downside to Harris is his lack of defensive ability. While he has decent length and athleticism, he really doesn’t defend any one position particularly well, so bringing Harris aboard would strictly be from an offensive perspective.
The good news is that Mitchell Robinson looks good enough defensively to help mask Harris’ deficiencies.
2. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler definitely won’t be anyone’s favorite option, and you can’t really be a title contender if he is your best player, but at the very least, bringing him aboard would be a start.
We know that Butler is an All-Star-caliber player capable of playing both ends of the floor at an elite level, and what he lacks in perimeter shooting he makes up for in absurd toughness and an ability to guard multiple positions defensively.
Yes, he has a questionable attitude, but there is no doubt that Butler is one of the best two-way wings in the league and would instantly make the Knicks a better team.
Pair him with another star, and you suddenly have something in New York.
Remember: Early on in the year, there was talk that Butler and Irving had mutual interest in playing with one another, so maybe there is something there.
1. Nikola Vucevic
That brings us to perhaps the biggest sleeper on the free-agent market: Nikola Vucevic.
You may not realize that Vucevic averaged 20 and 12 with the Orlando Magic this season, and you also probably did not know that Vucevic has extended his range to beyond the arc, as he made 36.4 percent of his 3s on the year.
Vucevic is a very underrated all-around player who is actually not that bad defensively. No one is going to confuse him for Kevin Garnett, but the 28-year-old is at least a passable defender who knows where to be on the floor.
Remember: It’s not like the Knicks suddenly lost the ability to sign two max players just because Durant got hurt, so if New York can pair Vucevic with someone like Kemba Walker or even Butler, that’s still a good offseason.