ORLANDO, Fla. -- If you couldn’t tell by the moves they’ve made this offseason, Jeff Hornacek spelled it out for you Thursday: The New York Knicks are looking to win now.
“I don’t think New York, Los Angeles, they’re not markets that you are going, ‘OK, you’re going through a rebuilding process,’” the Knicks' new coach said. “You have the ability to spend the money. You have attractive cities to go to. I think they’re always on the win-now thought process."
The Knicks are certainly subscribing to that thought process thus far in the offseason. They traded for Derrick Rose and are on the verge of signing his former Bulls teammate Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract, according to a report by ESPN’s Chris Broussard. Those two moves aren’t made by a team that is building slowly.
So what comes next?
If and when the Knicks finalize terms with Noah -- and the parties can't make it official until July 7 -- they will turn their attention to shooting guard. If the terms with Noah are as they were reported Thursday, New York would then have approximately $14.5 million left in salary-cap space for next season (depending on other cap holds for free agents).
The club has expressed interest in Courtney Lee, Evan Turner, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers, according to sources. Each player will likely command a deal worth more than $10 million annually in the first season. Gordon and Lee comprise the top of the Knicks' list, sources say.
So it might be challenging for the Knicks to add more top-end rotation players to the roster. They would like to retain free-agent forward Lance Thomas. The five-year veteran has received plenty of interest early on in free agency, fielding calls from Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Brooklyn and New Orleans, among others, sources say.
Free agent Langston Galloway, to whom the Knicks extended a $2.7 qualifying offer Thursday, also received calls from several teams, according to league sources. The Knicks would have the opportunity to match any offer sheet the point guard signs.
One other aspect to keep in mind during the early free-agency period: The club hasn’t entirely ruled out getting a face-to-face meeting with Kevin Durant. If the Knicks agreed to terms with Noah (with whom they are set meet later Friday in Orlando), it’s unlikely they’d have enough cap space to sign Durant to a max contract (which would start at around $26 million per season).
So it’s likely a moot point; but one person with knowledge of the Knicks/Durant dynamic says the idea Knicks president Phil Jackson could get an audience with Durant before the Thunder free agent makes a final decision hadn’t been ruled out as of Thursday evening. The Knicks' interest in Rivers and the location of the Noah meeting was first reported by the Vertical.