The NBA playoffs are in full swing and Kevin Durant is busy trying to win his third straight title with the Golden State Warriors, but anonymous sources say he’s also counting down the days until he can sign with the Knicks, which just tied the worst record in franchise history by finishing the season 17-65.
If that doesn’t sound at least a little strange to you, then you’ve been drinking too much of the kool-aid, which by the way is heavily spiked. You might be blackout drunk. Still, there’s no avoiding the fact that, all year, the noise surrounding Durant’s potential move to New York has become more and more amplified. The folks over at HoopsHype.com have done a good job compiling the many reports related to KD and the Knicks, and in going through the timeline they’ve put together, it’s clear that over the last year, the hype has only heightened.
ESPN’s Ian Begley poured multiple containers of highly flammable fuel on the fire Friday with a report that said anonymous NBA executives, agents, and current and former teammates of Durant believe he is headed to Madison Square Garden next season.
We’ve all heard the Kevin Durant to NYK speculation. Some former & current teammates expect it to happen. Nothing’s done until it’s done, of course. But for those reading tea leaves: some around KD told people w/a rooting interest in NYK to stay patient amid the losses this year: https://t.co/sDnMW5A5tM— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 26, 2019
Let’s dig into that report to see exactly what is being said, and then look at why or why not KD should want to take his talents to Manhattan.
”Just a matter of putting pen to paper.”
That quote, attributed by Begley to the agent of another major player who will be a free agent this summer, sums up a lot of the recent media narrative concerning Durant’s future. For months now, drip by drip, report by report, we’ve been told that Durant to the Knicks is essentially a lock. All we have to do is wait for the playoffs to end, for July 1 to come, and for Durant to sign on the dotted line.
Begley alluded to just how many people are displaying confidence that KD to the Knicks is going down, writing that “it’s easier to find street parking in Manhattan than it is to find an NBA executive, player or coach who doesn’t think Durant is going to sign with the Knicks in July.”
For those who haven’t spent literally hours driving around New York City assuming that a spot somewhere near your apartment will surely open up soon, before finally admitting to yourself that it’s time to bite the bullet and pay for a parking garage, Begley is right. It’s very difficult to find parking in Manhattan.
But the key word there is that people “think” Durant will sign with the Knicks. Many people thought there was no way Donald Trump would actually become president, but here we are. Until the word “think” turns into the word “know,” which won’t happen until Durant actually announces his decision, all we are doing is speculating.
Speaking of thinking, Begley’s report said some of Durant’s former teammates believe he’s going to sign with the Knicks, and that “several of his current teammates have told friends that they think it’s going to happen.” Further, he quoted a couple of opposing NBA executives as saying that Durant to the Knicks could be a real thing.
It definitely could happen. Durant also could choose to retire and play baseball for a season. There’s precedent for one of the best basketball players in the world doing that. Is there precedent for one of the best basketball players in the world signing with the Knicks as a free agent?
Why should KD sign with the Knicks?
This is the multi million-dollar question, and to be fair, despite the putrid overall effort from the Knicks this season, there are arguments to be made for Durant to come to New York. The Kristaps Porzingis trade opened up a hole in our hearts, but it also created a canyon of cap space, which as you already know means the Knicks have the ability to sign not only Durant, but another max free agent as well.
But would two max free agents turn the Knicks into a contender? The truth is that if the Knicks do accomplish the goal of inking Durant and, say, Kyrie Irving (or Kawhi Leonard? It’s time to get #KawhiNot? trending...), then the roster is going to look mighty different by the time the team tips off next season.
Luckily, front office buddy duo Scott Perry and Steve Mills seem to have set themselves up to recreate the roster in the image of whatever stars they can get. Right now, there are only four players on the team with guaranteed contracts for next season, so if things swing in the Knicks favor, they can fill out the roster with low-cost veterans who want to join forces with Durant and chase a championship in New York. Might the Knicks consider signing #BeanieMelo to help fill out the roster if Durant comes? Not saying they should, but they might.
Meanwhile, the four players who have guaranteed contracts are Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr., all of whom are young as heck and full of potential. Robinson is the only one of those four who should be completely and totally off limits. Please don’t include him in a trade, even if it’s as part of a package for Anthony Davis.
Then again, what if the Knicks sign Durant and Kyrie and then trade for Anthony Davis? Hi fantasy land, BennyBuckets here. First time, long time.
Anyway, pair a few of those youngsters with two superstars and a collection of veterans, and you could very well have yourself an imposing team. And lest we forget Allonzo Trier, who has longstanding ties to Durant and will hopefully be retained for next year.
Oh, there’s also the fact that the Knicks are guaranteed a top five pick in the upcoming NBA draft, which should net them, at the very least, an above average basketballer.
”If we’re ranking teams heading into the offseason, New York probably has the best tools in the toolshed,” one Western Conference executive said, per Begley. “Maybe they get it right this time.”
Finally, there’s the question of Durant’s legacy. The thinking goes that, if he were to stay with the Warriors, he will never be the face of the franchise — that face belongs to Steph Curry — and so in order to cement himself as one of the top five players to ever play the game, he’ll have to go elsewhere and prove he can still win.
”Winning there would change the narrative around him,” Begley quoted an NBA executive as saying.
The allure of being the guy who finally brought the Knicks back to the promised land seems enticing, but you always have to consider reality.
Why shouldn’t KD sign with the Knicks?
For starters, there’s the issue of the team having just tied the franchise record for worst season in history. When was that record for futility set, you ask? It must have been ages ago, right? What’s that? It happened within the last five years? Oh, okay. Hm.
“Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like to see the results on the court before making any bold statements about perception,” Begley quoted another rival executive as saying.
Additionally, history suggests that Knicks fans shouldn’t be getting their hopes up too much. While it turned out everyone was right in suggesting that LeBron James was headed to the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, most of the time the talking heads are just that: talking heads. There’s the possibility that people “in the know” are so confident about Durant because they ended up being right about LeBron, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be right once again.
The Knicks have tried and failed to land major free agents in recent years. In fact, they failed to even get a meeting with Durant back in the summer of 2016. So what’s different now? Well, Melo and Porzingis are both gone and Perry has partnered with Mills to lead the front office. The man in charge of it all, James Dolan, remains the team’s owner.
Dolan, who is willing to spend money but has overseen two decades of despair in New York, is thought of by many people as one of the major reasons players aren’t jonesing to play at the Mecca. Maybe this time, Dolan won’t hurt the team’s chances. But maybe he will.
Lastly, KD could look at all the current holes on the Knicks roster, take stock of how the Eastern Conference has become vastly improved, and decide that it would be better for his legacy to stick with the Warriors and try to win as many championships as possible. When all is said and done, if the Warriors can retain Durant, Curry and Klay Thompson and continue to stomp all over the league, they have the chance to end up being viewed as the best trio in NBA history.
Frankly, at this time, we have no way of knowing what is going to happen. All we can do is speculate. The players the Knicks yearn to sign are mostly still playing, because they are good, and the NBA playoffs are in full swing. Even if Durant does desire to play in New York, his thinking could change depending on how the Warriors finish the season.
The Knicks need some luck. Hopefully the basketball gods are ready to help the team emerge from the dark ages.
Before you hop on down to the comments, take less than one second to vote in this poll so we can see where our collective psyches are at right now:
Do you think Kevin Durant is going to sign with the Knicks?
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