LAS VEGAS — David Fizdale is confident that the Knicks will be able to attract marquee free agents in the coming years, and he couldn’t hide the relief of knowing that the best one from this market no longer is in the Eastern Conference.
LeBron James’ decision to join the Lakers probably has most Eastern Conference teams, including rebuilding ones like the Knicks, feeling better about the future.
“Hal-le-lu-jah,” Fizdale said after the Knicks’ first summer league practice Tuesday. “Look, I’ll take it. That’s all I can say.”
Fizdale can’t say much about James or anything about the two free agents with whom the Knicks reached agreement — Mario Hezonja and Luke Kornet — until the moratorium ends Friday. But Fizdale, entering his first season as Knicks coach, likes the path president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry have them on.
The Knicks are expected to be big spenders in free agency next summer, when Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Love and Kemba Walker could hit the market. Irving has been the player most often linked to the Knicks.
Fizdale believes his new team will be able to “make some big moves” next summer.
“Scott and Steve have done an incredible job of lining it up so that we’re in a position next summer to make moves,” Fizdale said. “I just feel like with the relationships we’ve built and our approach to the game and our view of players and the way we view guys and the way we treat guys and the culture we want to build, I really think we’re going to find somebody who fits the bill.
“As we get our culture in place, [Kristaps Porzingis] gets healthy, we start moving into next summer, I really feel like we’ll have the bricks in place to make some big moves.”
The Knicks are confident that they can open the cap space to sign one max player, but their hope is to clear the decks to sign two. Fizdale, an assistant coach with the Heat when James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh won two NBA titles, said a team needs multiple stars to win.
The Warriors proved that, sweeping James’ Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for their third title in four years. They reportedly are adding DeMarcus Cousins to their lineup of stars.
“One just won’t do it anymore,” Fizdale said. “We saw it with the greatest player in the world. It’s hard. And K-Love is no slouch. He’s a multi-All-Star player. So it’s just really tough. And now with what’s going on — which we can’t talk about — good grief. You got to have a couple of guys to get to that mountaintop, yeah.”
Fizdale continues to talk about how historic it would be for the Knicks to win a championship. They’ve captured only two in their 72-season history and have won only one playoff series in 18 years. But Fizdale believes New York City is the ultimate draw, and now it’s up to him and the front office to make the Knicks attractive.
“It’s the greatest city on Earth,” Fizdale said. “Guys want to be in New York City. We got NBA players running around New York City right now looking for a place to play pickup.
“If we could just get the foundation in place, really build the structure and the culture in a way that people view it that it’s a good thing they’re doing out there, the rest of it I think is going to take care of itself.”