BOSTON -- For months It has been no secret that the New York Knicks have kept a watchful eye on Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving with the plan being to entice him to bring his talents to the Big Apple next season.
Well he’s not the only Celtic free-agent-to-be that they watched closely during Boston’s postseason run, which ended last week in the conference semifinals to Milwaukee.
Multiple league sources tell NBC Sports Boston that the Knicks, a team with plenty of roster holes to fill this offseason, have interest in at least two other Celtics players besides Irving — Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier — who like Irving, will be free agents this summer.
New York’s interest in Rozier has been steady, only to have picked up during Rozier’s strong showing in the playoffs last year and continued through the February trade deadline, which is when Boston made the decision to keep Rozier and the rest of the team intact.
And while Irving is the bigger priority for New York, if the Knicks are able to land the No. 1 overall pick and package that in a trade for Anthony Davis while also securing Kevin Durant via free agency from Golden State, that would take them more or less out of the hunt for signing Irving and force them to potentially swing a deal for a less-established playmaker like ex-Celtic Rajon Rondo or a young player with upside… a player like Rozier.
Because Rozier will be a restricted free agent, the Celtics will have an opportunity to match any offer sheet the 6-foot-2 guard signs this offseason.
Like most of the Celtics, this was a rollercoaster of a season for Rozier, who was banking on a bigger, more consistent role after turning down a multi-year extension from the Celtics that was worth about $12 million per season.
It is unclear if Rozier will secure a deal in that neighborhood, or whether the Celtics would be inclined to match such an offer.
But it appears as though Rozier, while appreciative of his time with the Celtics, who selected him with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, is ready to move on to a franchise where he can have a more prominent, more consistent role than the one he has had during his time as a backup to Isaiah Thomas and most recently, Kyrie Irving.
As for Morris, his play in the postseason will increase the number of potential suitors for him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
In nine playoff games, Morris averaged 13.7 points on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from 3-point range, in addition to grabbing 8.1 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game.
Besides his numbers, the Knicks really liked the tough, rugged brand of basketball he played during the regular season that spilled over into the playoffs as well.
The price tag for Morris remains to be seen, but it’s fair to expect that he will at least double (and likely triple) his $5.375 million salary from this past season.
Boston will try and find a way to keep Morris in the fold this summer, but he’s likely to get a bigger-money offer from another team.
And then there’s the potential for someone to offer deals to him and his twin brother Markieff, which could potentially result in him taking less than his market value in order to play with his brother once again.
The Knicks expressed some interest in Daniel Theis as well, but they’re not anticipating making much if any pitch for him this summer with Theis set to be a restricted free agent.
This past season, one of the issues with Boston was that it had a roster that may have had too much talent.
Well, free agency will likely take care of that going forward.
And you can bet the New York Knicks will be among the teams looking to cash in on Boston’s impending glut of free agents - and it ain’t just Kyrie Irving, either.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.