The Knicks never sat down with Kawhi Leonard.
New York had a visit scheduled with the 28-year-old forward, according to a report from the New York Post, which cites an unidentified league source. Leonard, however, wasn’t going to meet with the team until after he spoke with the Clippers and Lakers, which led Knicks’ executives to cancel their plan “over logistics,” the report says.
The Knicks did not want to wait on Leonard and miss out on other free agents, especially since they were considered long-shots to land him, according to the report.
New York — which also failed to add stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving — reportedly ended up signing Wayne Ellington, Reggie Bullock, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis over the first two days of free agency.
“Our plan wasn’t to create $70 million in room to go after free agents this summer,” Knicks president Steve Mills told the Undefeated last month. “Our plan was to organically build this team through teamwork, drafting well, getting high-character guys that want to compete. The (salary cap) space was a byproduct of that. If the right guys are there for us, great, because we still have all the young pieces and draft picks to move forward.
“And if they’re not, we’re going to keep building our plan, drafting our guys, playing well and potentially being trade partners. We feel really good about where we are going.”
Leonard was sent from the Spurs to Toronto in a blockbuster trade last summer and he almost single-handedly carried the team to its first title in franchise history.
Leonard averaged 30.5 points in the playoffs, was named the Finals MVP and helped the Raptors avoid elimination by knocking down a crazy bouncing buzzer beater in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the 76ers in the second round.
KAWHI CALLED SERIES! pic.twitter.com/V4AIuMULNO
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) May 13, 2019
Leonard is reportedly considering returning to Toronto, while the Clippers and Lakers remain in the mix to sign him, as well.