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The Knicks plan to vigorously pursue Kawhi Leonard in free agency

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Kawhi wouldn’t Kawhi come to the Knicks? Wait, don’t answer that.

2019 NBA Finals - Game Two
The Knicks have a brain and will pursue Kawhi Leonard. Good!
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The countdown to when teams can begin negotiating with free agents is nearing its conclusion, and on Thursday reports emerged saying the Knicks are planning a hot pursuit of Kawhi Leonard when the clock strikes 6 p.m. eastern time on the final day of June.

In case you missed the memo, the NBA recently announced that teams can officially begin talking to free agents a little bit earlier than usual. Unlike years past, teams will be allowed to meet with players and start negotiations on June 30, although contracts can’t be signed until 12:01 a.m. on July 1. Every team is, of course, following these rules (wink wink).

Now that those details are settled, there is news afoot! Apparently, the whole Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Knicks thing we’ve been hearing about forever isn’t necessarily a lock, as rumors have started to sprout implying that duo might end up elsewhere. Perhaps in Brooklyn, on a Nets team that just inked a trade that will give them the cap space to sign two max free agents.

Because of all the KD and Kyrie hullabaloo, there hasn’t been much discussion this year about the Knicks potentially pursuing Leonard, who might very well be the best available free agent, and could be on his way to a second Finals MVP if he can lead the Toronto Raptors to a championship over the Golden State Warriors.

As the free agency period clamors ever closer, however, it appears the Knicks might not be as one-track minded as it may have seemed for much of this year. It started with Newsday’s Steve Popper, who cited a source as saying that the Knicks are “expected to push hard for Leonard when free agency begins…”

It’s nice to hear that the Knicks realize Leonoard is among the major free agents this summer, even if it feels like there’s an extremely minuscule chance he chooses to leave a championship-caliber squad to join the worst team in the NBA.

But wait, there’s more! Not long after Popper’s piece went live, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that Steve Mills and Scott Perry are not only planning to pursue Leonard, but feel confident that they will at least get a meeting with the large-handed superstar. A meeting!

Because Kawhi is who he is, there aren’t even really have any salacious quotes we can point to in order to pretend he might seriously consider New York. The best we’ve got is when Leonard noted earlier this season that the Knicks have real fans that attend games and support the team, “even with a losing record.”

“That’s what you want I guess from an organization if you’re playing for them,” Leonard added, per the Popper article linked to earlier in this story.

When you exit fantasyland and re-enter reality, it becomes clear that the chances of Kawhi coming to the Knicks are just about as good as James Dolan selling the team in our lifetime. But since we’re still here, feel free to briefly imagine a defensive unit featuring Kawhi Leonard, Mitchell Robinson and Frank Ntilikina.

Okay, time to wake up.