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Knicks and free agency: Where players range, from unrealistic to fallback options

Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors handles the

Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors handles the ball on offense against the Brooklyn Nets during a preseason game at Barclays Center on Friday, Oct 18, 2019.  Credit: Steven Ryan

For the Knicks, we will break down tonight’s start of free agency into what we hope are realistic categories - but just like a mock draft, there are surprises. Consider where Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving may have placed last year ahead of the opening of free agency.

Unrealistic

Anthony Davis, 27, PF - unrestricted

Davis didn't force his way to the Lakers and already pay off with a title for a one-year stay in L.A. He opted out but that just opens up a huge payday from the Lakers.

Brandon Ingram, 23, SF - restricted

The other side of the Davis deal, Ingram arrived in New Orleans and found his home. Now he gets to pair up with Zion Williamson as the Pelicans build around him.

Unlikely

Gordon Hayward, 30, SF - unrestricted

His decision to opt out of a final year of his contract paying him $34 million has a lot of people wondering what he has in mind - and if he has assurances something more lucrative awaits. He extended his deadline to make a decision with the Celtics before opting out so there is at least thought that he has been working on a way to a longer deal with security. But the Hawks or Knicks with their cap space will be interested, and Indiana is believed to be interested in a sign-and-trade deal.

Christian Wood, 25, PF-C - unrestricted

His quick rise last season made him a suddenly hot commodity for a big payday and the Knicks have had interest. But in drafting Obi Toppin and with Mitchell Robinson in place, paying a high price for Wood, who the Pistons want to retain, seems unlikely.

Davis Bertans, 28, SF - unrestricted

The Wizards have insisted they want to keep the 6-foot-10 shooter, but he makes the decision now -- and Washington just drafted Deni Avdija. He ranked third last season in three-point attempts per 36 minutes but opted to sit out the bubble restart.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, 28, SF - restricted

The center of a sloppy sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks, he may want out now, but the Kings still hold the cards with the ability to match. Would they like Julius Randle?

The decisions

Fred VanVleet, 26, PG - unrestricted

The Knicks need a point guard and have a huge stash of salary cap space, so this makes sense, right? But handing a four-year, $80 million deal for an undrafted player who has worked his way into this payday still seems like a risk. He is a perfect fit in Toronto. But does he hold the same value as a team leader in New York?

Malik Beasley, 23, SG - restricted

Leon Rose has an interesting choice here. He is searching for character as well as talent, and Beasley has been in the news for something other than his play lately as he faces felony gun and drug charges. His play in Denver and most notably during his brief run in Minnesota make him an attractive piece, but with a court date Monday there certainly are questions to answer.

The fallbacks

DJ Augustin, 32, PG - unrestricted

A possible reunion with Tom Thibodeau, he played very well for the Magic last season.

Jeff Teague, 34, PG - unrestricted

Pair him with the same description as Augustin -- familiar with Thibodeau and a capable veteran to help an inexperienced backcourt.

Kris Dunn, 26, SG-SF - unrestricted

He has made himself into an elite defender on the perimeter, which certainly has value, and might attract Thibodeau to pursue him.

New York Sports