New York Knicks among the favorites to land Kawhi Leonard in free agency

The New York Knicks plan to be active during NBA free agency. Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard will opt out of his contract and hit the open market despite suffering a partially torn ACL during the NBA Playoffs.

While there’s a good chance Leonard opts to re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers on the open market, it has not stopped rumors from persisting about potential landing spots should he leave Southern California.

If that were to happen, Odds Shark has the Knicks as the favorites to land the two-time NBA Finals MVP. They are joined by other top-end contenders and teams looking to make a splash heading into free agency.

New York Knicks join others as favorites to land Kawhi Leonard

New York knicks favored to land Kawhi Leonard
Jun 14, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) moves the ball against Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during the second half in game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Los Angeles Clippers: -250
  • New York Knicks: +300
  • Dallas Mavericks: +400
  • Miami Heat: +500
  • Toronto Raptors: +700
  • Golden State Warriors: +750
  • Los Angeles Lakers: +800

It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the Clippers are betting favorites to retain Leonard. This has been the case over the past several months.

With that said, there’s a scenario in play here which includes Leonard departing Southern California after just two seasons. While Los Angeles made its deepest run into the playoffs in franchise history this past season, it still didn’t earn a trip to the NBA Finals. There’s now an open question whether the duo of Leonard and Paul George can lead this organization to the title.

Among the others listed, we’ve already heard rumors that the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks are interested in acquiring Leonard. Both could be seen as top-end title contenders with him in the mix and could be in the cap situation to add him this summer.

New York Knicks are going to be big-game hunting this summer

new york knicks chasing after kawhi leonard, damian lillard
Apr 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) is defended by Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13), forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and center DeMarcus Cousins (15) as he looks to the basket in the first half of the game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

As much as it isn’t a surprise the Clippers are favored to retain Leonard, we’re not taking aback by New York’s inclusion here. Fresh off a shocking trip to the NBA Playoffs, the Knicks are seen as a prime landing spot for big-name players — both in free agency and on the trade market.

Just recently, they have been anointed favorites to land future Hall of Fame point guard Damian Lillard should he request a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers. New York has also been linked to big-name free agents such as Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry.

Whether they even have a chance to land Leonard will depend heavily on other offseason plans for front office head Leon Rose and Co. Simply put, the star forward is not going to join the Knicks without another top-end player teaming up with him. It’s similar to when both Leonard and George headed to Los Angeles ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The good news for Knicks fans? This team will have north of $55 million to spend in free agency. They can conceivably sign Leonard outright while potentially pulling off a blockbuster trade for someone like the aforementioned Lillard.

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