Knicks’ secret negotiating weapon is on Kawhi Leonard’s toes

When the Knicks meet with free agent Kawhi Leonard in a bid to lure the NBA Finals MVP to New York, there could also be extra for him to contemplate along with basketball.

Although it’s true for Kevin Durant and all free brokers the Knicks plan to recruit, the membership hopes to underline the enterprise alternatives which have largely eluded the low-key Leonard.

Specifically, New York’s raging shoe/sneaker market may lastly resonate with the 27-year-old Leonard at this stage of his profession. In February, Leonard left Jordan Model in an unorthodox maneuver to affix New Stability, which had been out of the NBA scene.

It was a breakthrough transfer for Leonard and one promoting level the Knicks seemingly will drive house to him is the power of New York to skyrocket his new sneaker model.

For the second, defending the title with the Raptors or taking part in for the Clippers in his hometown of Los Angeles are thought of his high two choices. Opening Leonard’s eyes to the huge advertising and marketing alternatives that await him right here will give the Knicks a singular pitch.

Free company begins Sunday and, as The Put up reported June 6, the Knicks expect to have a meeting with Leonard, whose high influencer is his uncle, Dennis Robertson. The Athletic reported conferences with Leonard and Durant shall be in New York. Durant has been in New York since his surgical procedure two weeks in the past.

“Uncle Dennis” hails from South Orange, NJ, and is a former Manhattan banker. Knicks president Steve Mills lived in the same town as Robertson and has identified him for years.

The Knicks have a really quick listing and solely take into account Leonard, Durant (regardless of his Achilles rupture/30-year-old age) and Kyrie Irving as gamers they’d provide the utmost contract, viewing them as franchise changers. Level guard Kemba Walker can be a situational max man if, say, Durant or Leonard wished to play with him.

As sneaker capital of the world, New York controls one-third of the basketball market in that multibillion-dollar business. That’s a variety of vacationers and Knicks followers shopping for sneakers.

Steve Rosner, who runs the sports activities advertising and marketing agency 16W Advertising, stated New York’s sturdy enterprise alternatives may sway Durant, however he’s skeptical about Leonard.

“If Leonard comes to New York, will it help New Balance sell more shoes? Absolutely,’’ Rosner said. “The number of retail outlets they have and media dollars allocated to the No. 1 market in the country, it will help, no question. Will Kawhi come to New York because of it? I doubt that will be reason No. 1. You got to know the customer. With Kevin, with his past outside interests and businesses, it is important to him. New York could connect the dots for Kevin. Kawhi is a little bit of an unknown.”

Leonard’s uniquely understated character is paying homage to Derek Jeter’s. The Knicks assume that Jeter temperament can be good for New York.

Knicks coach David Fizdale and Leonard have a connection in each hailing from Los Angeles and attending school in San Diego (College of San Diego and San Diego State, respectively).

While Irving is eyeing the Nets and Durant reportedly can also be giving therm robust consideration, the Knicks nonetheless keep the a lot increased profile within the Huge Apple.

Past the higher attendance figures, the Knicks’ TV rankings doubled the Nets final season regardless of being the NBA’s worst staff and Brooklyn making the playoffs.

One supply stated that after Dennis Smith Jr. received traded to the Knicks in February, the variety of his social media followers rose 60%.

In fact that will not matter to Leonard, whose Twitter account seems inactive. He’s tweeted 4 occasions — and never since 2015. Leonard is caught on 331,000 followers in comparison with LeBron James’ 43 million.

Leonard could look to show over a brand new leaf and change into serious about rising his off-the-court alternatives. He’s already been taking part in up his quiet, reserved persona by carrying a “Fun Guy” T-shirt.

Amar’e Stoudemire become “The Renaissance Man” in New York. RJ Barrett, the Knicks’ first-round decide, has already seen an increase in his profile. Days after being selected third in the draft, Barrett — not No. 1 decide Zion Williamson — was handing out the Rookie of the 12 months Award on the NBA ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif.

If Leonard agrees to come back, the Knicks would seemingly attempt to signal a few stable veterans of his selecting to place round him.

If Leonard desires, say, his Spurs/Raptors teammate Danny Inexperienced, the Knicks would seemingly attempt to make that occur. Leonard alone ought to make the Knicks a playoff contender with Barrett and enchancment from their younger gamers comparable to Kevin Knox.

Leonard has two NBA titles, two Finals MVP Awards and three Finals berths however has but to capitalize on that success off the courtroom.

There’s sentiment Leonard will return to Toronto to defend his crown on a one-year deal.

If that’s the case, the Knicks would have a minimum of laid the groundwork and given Leonard one thing to consider for 2020 free company when the Knicks could roll over their cap area.

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Marc Berman

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