The Knicks never made a formal offer to the Pelicans for center Anthony Davis on the teams’ latest round of trade talks, according an NBA official.
While the Knicks had interest in the superstar center, talks with New Orleans’ new general manager, David Griffin, were preliminary and brief ever since he began soliciting offers two weeks ago. Davis is headed to the Lakers after Saturday’s blockbuster agreement.
The sense is the Knicks believed they could not match the demands of the Pelicans and essentially backed off.
On Saturday, the Lakers gave the Pelicans a haul in six future shiny assets: top-5 picks Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, solid sub Josh Hart and three first-round picks, including the No. 4-overall pick in this week’s draft.
The Knicks’ hesitancy to make an offer underscores a recent SNY report about the club’s concern of adding too many assets to a potential Davis deal. The Knicks appear content on keeping the third pick in the draft to select either RJ Barrett or Ja Morant, depending on which one the Grizzlies select at No. 2.
That the Knicks never made a formal offer is stunning considering, according to a source, agent Rich Paul informed Griffin directly the Knicks and Lakers were Davis’ two preferences.
The Knicks weren’t willing to come close to offering up six pieces, as the Lakers did. Former Pelicans GM Dell Demps, fired after he was unable to trade Davis at February’s deadline, had a higher opinion of the Knicks’ young players than did Griffin, who urged the Knicks to find a third team to include in the deal.
In fact, Griffin’s hiring on April 17 did the Knicks’ chances no favors. Griffin even was critical of Kevin Knox during NBATV appearances. Griffin also knows Paul, who also is LeBron James’ agent, well from his days as Cleveland GM.
Davis and Paul, on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated, probably got their top wish in uniting with James. The Lakers still could have enough cap space to sign a star point guard, with Kemba Walker’s name surfacing.
“The Lakers had to get AD, otherwise it would’ve been a waste of LeBron — or whatever LeBron has left,’’ one NBA executive said.
If they land Walker, the Lakers are favorites to come out of the Western Conference because Warriors free agents Kevin Durant (if he re-signs) and Klay Thompson both likely will miss all of next season with injuries.
The Post reported Saturday that Draymond Green flew to New York over the weekend and was to meet with a recuperating Durant. A source said Green was visiting as “a friend’’ and not a business associate looking to convince him to return to Golden State.
The Knicks are still interested in landing Durant. The Warriors appear in the dark about Durant’s plans. Warriors GM Bob Myers said, “I don’t know,” Friday when asked directly if he thought his chances were good to get Durant back. One Golden State player, when asked if he thinks Durant will re-sign because of the injury, said “No idea.’’
The Knicks’ pie-in-the-sky summer has not gone according to plan. They didn’t win the Zion Williamson lottery. They didn’t feel strong enough about their chances to make a formal offer for Davis. And even if he signs with the Knicks, the 6-foot-11 Durant will miss next season and be a slight question mark at age 32 for 2020-21, when he returns from his devastating Achilles tendon injury.
The Knicks also feel they will get a meeting with Kawhi Leonard, but the prospect of selling him as a tandem with the injured Durant has probably been blown, too. In addition, reports suggest Kyrie Irving has the Nets higher on his list than the Knicks.
While owner James Dolan touted the Knicks’ success in free agency, team president Steve Mills provided caution in an interview with The Post a week after the regular season ended.
“The [Kristaps] Porzingis trade wasn’t done because we wanted to do something to create cap room,’’ Mills said. “We needed to make the trade to build our team the right way and the cap room is a byproduct of what happened. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of guys are interested in New York. They like [coach David Fizdale]. They like some of the changes we made in the organization. We hear that from agents. We hear that from other players. At least we’re in the game and hopefully something really good happens. But we won’t know until it happens.”
If the stars don’t align for the Knicks, Mills could take his $74 million in cap space and try one-year deals with some of the better free agents. Or in a long-term deal pursue former Laker and Pelican Julius Randle, whom they like, or take a flier on former No. 2 pick Jabari Parker, who has been an injury-riddled bust.
But going that route would seem to put off contending for a playoff spot for another season.
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