The Durant rumors started before the Knicks played a game, and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay was aware of it. He spoke to SI TV about it, and while this was not a distraction, it became a difficult topic to ignore: “I wouldn’t say it’s weird. I would say it’s kind of expected. It could get weird for a rookie or a second-year guy. Just because you’re not really used to that, but at the same time, that’s just what the media is going to do. They’re going to try to build up a story, and that’s their job. That’s what they have to do, so you kind of just have to keep your head down and finish out the season and play every day as if he’s not there — which he’s not there yet. “Is that someone New York definitely wants? No doubt, with what he’s done in his career. The scorer he is. The type of player he is. The type of person he is. I wouldn’t say it’s a distraction, but I would say you can’t miss it. “
More Rumors in this Storyline
The belief is that Durant will only join the Knicks if another high-level free agent agrees to sign with the Knicks as well. The most likely candidate is the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, who coincidentally won a championship in Cleveland as Robin to LeBron’s Batman. He could fill that same role at MSG. So sure are some executives and player agents of a Durant-Irving pairing in New York that one agent told The Athletic that Durant and Irving are debating on who will sign first.
“From everything I’ve heard, it’s done. Yes, he’s leaving… If he so much as gets [the Knicks] into the Conference Finals, he will be beloved there like he never has been at Golden State after 2 Championships.” @RicBucher on Kevin Durant’s free agency
If you want rumors and predictions, they’re not hard to find in this gossipy league. Rival executives will tell you, without hesitation, that Durant is bound for the Knicks; that Irving is likely to join him; that Leonard likes the Clippers; that Butler might choose the Lakers—unless he chooses the Nets. Of course, they all might stay put. (Well, except for Durant. Virtually everyone believes he’s leaving the Warriors.) No one knows for sure. Predictions are flimsy.
I want to end by talking about this summer’s top free agents. I want to throw some different names at you and then you tell me what you predict the player will do and what you hope they do. Let’s start with Kevin Durant. Jalen Rose: If it was up to me, I’d actually like to see Kevin Durant remain a member of the Golden State Warriors. The last time I checked, he’s been there two years and won two championships and been named Finals MVP twice. That’s the mic drop. Now, if he decides to leave, I believe he’s going to end up a member of the New York Knicks. Same with Kyrie Irving. I would like to see him stay with the Boston Celtics. They have arguably the best general manager (Danny Ainge) and coach (Brad Stevens) in the game, they’ve won the most championships, they have terrific young talent and they could possibly get up to four draft picks in the first round this summer. I would like to see him stay in Boston. But if he decides to leave, I think he also ends up with the Knickerbockers.
How Dolan’s baggage impacts free agency is unclear. The general feeling is that both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will seriously consider joining the Knicks this summer. You can find coaches, players, executives and players who will tell you that Durant is headed to the Knicks. Building his business empire and cementing his legacy with a title in New York appeals to Durant. But Dolan’s ugly exit on Saturday is a reminder that the Knicks, for most of the last 18 years, have been a train wreck. The dysfunction starts at the top. That certainly concerns Mills and it should concern free agents, including Team Durant.
Jimmy Traina: More Barkley: ” I dont think Durant or Kyrie are tough enough to play in NY. Kyrie’s a very good player. Kevin’s a great, great player. But Im not sure they have the mental make up to play in NY. Those guys are complaining about the media asking questions. Maybe NY isnt for them.
David Locke: What are Kevin Durant’s chances of staying with the Warriors next year? Sam Amick: I’m gonna say 15 [percent]. Locke: Your best guess of where Durant plays next year? Amick: New York.
David Locke: Does Kyrie Irving play with Kevin Durant next year? Sam Amick: This is where it gets tricky. I say no and now I don’t know who Kevin’s playing with and now I don’t feel great about my last answer. I was just around Boston and Kyrie took a turn for the better, and so that’s where it gets tricky. I know for a fact, they [New York] are searching for who that second guy would be if it’s not gonna be Kyrie.
Diamond Leung: Stephen A. Smith: “They’re doing something nice in Brooklyn…Everybody talking about (Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and others) going to the New York Knicks. You know what folks have said to me? “Excuse me, we said New York, who said the Knicks?” espn.com/espnradio/play…
“Do I think a team like the Knicks has a very high level of optimism that wouldn’t be there if some reason for optimism had not been conveyed to them?” Amick said via a conference call on The Rich Eisen Show. “No, I do not believe they’re doing this of their own accord entirely to best position themselves to get two specific max players.
Chris Haynes: “Kevin Durant was my first guest on my podcast and I asked him about his [free agency] situation. He said on his next deal this summer, he wants to make the most money that he possibly can. If that’s the case, Golden State can offer him the most money. But I still don’t think it’s going to be all about money, even though that’s what he told me. You look at New York. Obviously his business partner, Rich Kleiman, is a huge Knicks fan and based in New York. I know a lot of noise was made about KD’s company moving to a new location in New York, but I talked to KD about that and he said his company has always been based in New York; they’re just moving to a new location there. It’s always been [in NY] and he wanted to make that clear. But the connections are all there. It’s all there. I really do think the New York Knicks are players [for Durant]… I’ll tell you, New York is going to be a player.”
The Knicks Wall: Lowe on Porzingis wanting out: “I don’t think he was psyched about playing with Durant. I don’t know how directly that was verbalized to the Knicks, but I’m confident that it wasn’t something that was his Plan A, he wanted to be the face of the franchise.”
There’s been speculation that Durant’s agent, New York-based Rich Kleiman, could join the Knicks front office if Durant comes. One NBA source believes Durant may want Cook to follow him to his next stop, too. Cook and Durant were part of the same AAU system, playing for the P.G. Jaguars.
Kevin Durant dominated Sunday’s All-Star Game while the buzz about his pending free agency simply dominated All-Star Weekend in Charlotte. The general consensus among NBA executives, coaches and players is that if Durant were to leave the Golden State Warriors as a free agent in July, his most likely destination would be — wait for it — the New York Knicks. It gets better for fans of the team that plays at Madison Square Garden. The other big story coming out of Charlotte is that Knicks owner James Dolan, according to The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, is “courting offers” to sell the club.
With speculation that Kevin Durant will join New York Knicks this summer heating up ahead of the all-star break, former Pacers great Reggie Miller says to pump the breaks on Durant leaving the Warriors for the Big Apple. “Personally, I can’t see him going to New York,” Miller said in a Turner Sports conference call with former Kings forward Chris Webber.
“If he’s a little surly and upset about what The Athletic wrote about him, if he gets a couple of bad games in New York, under that microscope, he’s really going to be upset,” Miller said. “So you got to factor everything when you’re joining the New York Knicks – the number one media market in the world and in our game. You can’t be upset with the media when you’re back to back NBA champion and back to back Finals MVPs.”
The New York Knicks used an image of rookie center Mitchell Robinson playing alongside the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant in a pitch to season-ticket holders, then deleted the picture to avoid the perception that the organization had an ulterior motive in including Durant, who will be a 2019 free agent, in the pitch. “Game action photos are used all the time for marketing purposes, but given everything going on, we took the precaution of taking the photo down,” the Knicks said in a statement Sunday night. “To be clear, it was one of several rotating photos on the website.”
Stefan Bondy: Knicks statement on including KD’s photo in season ticket promotion: “Game action photos are used all the time for marketing purposes, but given everything going on, we took precaution of taking the photo down. To be clear, it was one of several rotating photos on the website.”
Nick Friedell: Durant said he just wants to focus on basketball. Didn’t want to discuss the Knicks. Believes the media has read into his words too much. That was the most frustrated I’ve ever seen him in a press conference setting.
Nick Friedell: Durant speaks. Says he doesn’t trust the media. He feels his words have been twisted. Spoke for about three minutes and left.
Connor Letourneau: Kevin Durant just walked out of his presser after a heated exchange with media about reports on his free agency. Here’s the beginning of the exchange: pic.twitter.com/asH19fGZKv
Let us be frank, with the caveat that the choice lives inside the head of one guy who can and does change his mind: Insiders around the league think Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors for the Knicks. Most people within the Warriors either think Durant is leaving or profess not to know one way or the other. His teammates recognize this reality, can handle it and merely want one outcome: Win a championship, absent too much drama. The main concern, at the moment, is whether he’ll commit in the short term to what he may have already left in the long term.
The Knicks acquired something else while trading Kristaps Porzingis: a conduit and recruiter to Kevin Durant. New York’s line on DeAndre Jordan is they hope he can mentor their young centers, but, as the Daily News has learned, the Knicks also view him as an asset in their pursuit of Durant.
Jordan, after all, is close with Durant and served a similar role while with the Clippers in the summer of 2016. Durant ultimately signed with the Warriors, but cited Jordan as the reason he even considered L.A.’s stepchild franchise.
He is on a $22.9 million expiring deal and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, so the Knicks – who have hopes of signing Durant and another max star – may not be able to bring Jordan back. But they could also use the mid-level exception (almost $9 million per season) to sign Jordan this summer, so it’s certainly possible. The Knicks have another of Durant’s buddies – Royal Ivey – as an assistant coach. Ivey and Durant were teammates on the Thunder for two seasons. Durant once called Ivey his best friend in the league.
The New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis for a package that included DeAndre Jordan, who may actually help them land Kevin Durant. Brian Windhorst mentioned that New York plans to keep the two-time NBA rebounding leader, though many have expected Jordan to end up as a buyout candidate.
Conversations with NBA insiders and executives paint a positive picture for the Knicks, too. Smith is a bit of a gamble — he didn’t excel in Dallas under coach Rick Carlisle — but he has plenty of athleticism and talent. The draft picks, especially if the Western Conference stays as tough as it is today, might turn into lottery selections. But the real win is the possibilities the deal allows for this summer. The Knicks now have enough cap space to sign two players to maximum contracts. The Knicks have been considered by a lot of executives the favorite to sign Kevin Durant, and the trade might signal their confidence that he’s on his way.
The idea of Durant and Irving playing together in New York had been whispered about previously. But now that the Knicks have cleared a path to signing both of them outright, it has quickly exploded into full-on speculation. It has been thought for months that Durant’s most logical destination, should he choose to leave Golden State, would be to come East and join the Knicks. Several rival teams this week said that is their full expectation — and that was before the Knicks, clearly feeling confident about their chances, used Porzingis to push all their chips to the center of the table. None of this, of course, has any impact on Golden State’s thinking, sources said. Even if Durant went to team brass and said there was no chance he was coming back this summer — and, to be clear, that hasn’t happened — it’s not as if the Warriors would consider the possibility of trading him. Their plan, as it has been all season, is to go win a third straight title this spring, see what happens this summer and then act accordingly.
Nonetheless, the plan all along has been Durant and Irving, and the Knicks have officially opened up a path to sign them. Durant has wavered between staying or leaving all season, according to league sources. His manager, Rich Kleiman, is a native New Yorker and has even joked about someday running the Knicks. Also, Durant maintains a relationship with Perry from the lone year they spent together in Seattle, and Royal Ivey—whom Durant once called his “favorite teammate ever” and “best friend in the league”—is a Knicks assistant coach. Durant’s future could largely depend on Golden State’s results this season, but New York is at least an option. Now, the Knicks can pitch Durant on coming to New York and teaming up with a proven star—not a theoretical one, like Porzingis.
All around the league, executives who are paid handsomely to track this sort of thing had the same takeaway: The Knicks, who have been widely known to be targeting Durant for so long now and whose general manager (Scott Perry) was part of the Seattle SuperSonics front office team that drafted him out of Texas in 2007, must be very confident that they’re going to get the Golden State star. Some rival executives even reported that Knicks officials themselves have been expressing a very high level of optimism on this front.
Add in the growing concern from rival teams that the Knicks will offer Kleiman a job as part of their plan, and the fact that Durant and Perry are known to still have a good relationship, and you start to understand why New York had everyone’s attention even before this monumental move. But if this truly is in the works, if Durant is planning to bounce from the Bay and take on that yeoman’s challenge of bringing glory back to the Garden, it’s just the sort of thing that will keep the Boston Celtics brass up at night from now until this summer.
New York will target the top players on the market, which is expected to include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. Some close to Durant see New York as a possible landing spot for the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP if he chooses to leave Golden State, according to league sources.
The Knicks, on the other hand, haven’t been a preferred destination for years—but there are indications of that potentially changing. League sources believe they have “a strong chance” of luring Durant should he leave the Golden State Warriors this summer and that Davis is “open” to New York as a landing place as well. Throw in a pick in this year’s NBA draft that could potentially add Duke’s Zion Williamson or RJ Barrett or Murray State’s Ja Morant, and there’s finally a reason for optimism in Manhattan.
When asked directly if he would confirm the scuttlebutt the Knicks would be in play, Durant said: “I have no clue where that stuff comes from. I just focus on playing ball every single day. I can’t control what people say about me, or what they say about our future and what I should do. I come to work every single day, and life will figure itself out.” Durant was then asked how it feels to be peppered with New York questions. “I just got to do it,” Durant said. “You guys asked for me, I got to talk. If I don’t, I’ll get fined. That’s all. So I’m just trying to be as honest as I can about the question but also give you what you need for your job but also not say anything that’ll ….”
In stating his evaluations of the current roster and the team’s dreadful record, Mills was more measured with his words. He is smart to call this season a rebuilding year, especially with Porzingis sidelined until at least February. Mills then lowered expectations in advance of this summer’s free agency. If the Knicks strike out, Mills can simply say we’re building through the draft. That’s a wise strategy.
What Mills can’t say publicly, because it would violate the NBA’s tampering rules, is that the Knicks are all in on free agent-to-be Kevin Durant. The Warriors superstar is and should be the Knicks’ number one free agent target. And for what it’s worth, according to several NBA executives who attended last week’s G-League Showcase in Las Vegas, the general consensus is the Knicks are still very much in play to land Durant. “Everyone says Knicks,” said one prominent player agent.
The cap space for New York in 2019-20 now projects to be $29.5M after the Allonzo Trier signing ($3.55M cap hit). The room takes into account: 1) All free agent cap holds renounced except for Kristaps Porzingis 2) Waiving the non-guaranteed contract of Lance Thomas 3) Their own first round pick. The projected max for a player with 7-9 years of service like Kyrie Irving is $32.7M and for 10+ years like Kevin Durant $38.15M.
In talking about the Knicks and their off-season target, Kevin Durant, Woj said New York will probably “get a meeting” with the Finals MVP, but threw a bit of cold water on their chances, at least from a historical perspective. “Getting a player like Durant takes years of building up a program, building up an infrastructure, building credibility with what you’re doing and history kind of shows you that it doesn’t get short-circuited by a guy who’s a big free agent,” said Woj. “If you’re talking about Kevin Durant, some people say he may be the best player in the league. “History also tells you that that player usually either stays where he is or he goes somewhere where something’s been established there and has been building toward this. The Knicks may not fit that description.”
This is, amazingly, the second most likely scenario in play. Durant Knicks buzz has been percolating around the league since June. In September, a league source told SI that the wheels for a New York move were already in motion, in much the same way LeBron’s L.A. move had been (allegedly) scripted well before July 2018. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of that claim.
While the Golden State Warriors remain confident that Kevin Durant will stay with the team next season, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN says he’s “hearing differently.” He broke down the latest rumors Wednesday on The Stephen A. Smith Show (beginning around 20:55): “I’m hearing the Knicks and the Lakers, with the Lakers having the edge. That’s what I’m hearing. Two weeks ago, I heard the Knicks had the edge. Now, I hear the Lakers have the edge. Let me tell you something, it appears to be one of those two teams which is Kevin Durant’s next destination. But Golden State is telling me: ‘There’s no way in hell we believe he’s leaving. We believe Kevin Durant’s gonna stay.'”
The Madison Square Garden crowd roared when Durant was announced but he has bristled in the past about overly amorous fans. The Knicks booked Ashanti to play the national anthem and halftime — Durant has publicly expressed his fondness for her music — but who would switch teams because of a halftime act? He is a fan of MSG — “It feels like you’re playing at Rucker Park indoors,” he said — but Durant can just play Rucker in the summer. Trying to read body language and tea leaves, however, is likely to be a failing mission. Durant is too savvy, too experienced. Instead, the whole night was just atmospherics.
“Trying to read into it it is useless,” Shaun Livingston said. “Because when that man is ready to make a decision or when he’s ready to say something, he will say it. That’s a grown man down there and he’s been 12 years in the league. He’s seen pretty much everything.”
That night’s 2018 parallel came on Friday in New York City. Three years later, the Knicks play the role of desperate Eastern Conference franchise dreaming of Durant in their jersey. The Warriors are now the incumbent protector, but do so in a very different, more relaxed way than the Thunder. Back then, the OKC brass fist-pumped the schedule makers. They were elated to get the D.C. trip out of the way early. Durant’s impending free agency loomed over the franchise like a storm cloud. Certain hot spot cities made it feel like a hurricane. That’s not the feeling around these Warriors. When chatting with some of the franchise’s luminaries on Friday night in Madison Square Garden, no one sounded eager for the New York City weekend to end. There was even a slight bit of disappointment that one of their favorite trips on the calendar would be scratched off before the season was two weeks old.
That’s a constant theme around these Warriors: Humor to defuse tension. Durant’s free agency future is a serious threat to this dynasty. Everyone is curious to see what he’ll do. It’ll affect the life path of many of his teammates. They monitor the breadcrumbs as closely as anyone. Around the Thunder, it was a taboo topic — always there but hardly touched. Around these Warriors, it freely pops up at any moment, occasionally weaponized into a joke, like when Durant got to the Garden on Friday night and Andre Iguodala had a message for him. “Welcome home,” Iguodala joked.
The other difference: The Warriors in zero way fear the Knicks in these sweepstakes. Durant may decide to go to New York in July. They know that. The buzz is legitimate. The connections are there. His business manager, Rich Kleiman, is a New York-based Knicks fan with dreams of working in their front office one day. Royal Ivey, perhaps Durant’s best friend, is on David Fizdale’s coaching staff. But in all aspects of basketball success and organizational management, the areas in which the Warriors can control, they are superior.
There’s reason to believe KD will have the Knicks on his radar — as opposed to 2015. Rich Kleiman, born and bred in Manhattan, growing up a diehard Knicks fan, was at the Garden for Friday’s matchup. Kleiman is Durant’s manager/agent. Knicks president Steve Mills and Kleiman go way back. At least the Knicks will be kept in the loop if there’s even a chance.
Durant was tepid in his reaction to the billboard when asked about it Thursday. “It’s the time the NBA is in,” he said. “We look forward to free agency as fans, and your guys’ job is to kind of look towards the future a little bit. And the fans love it. So I understand. “To be honest, I don’t know how I feel about that type of stuff. It’s cool. No disrespect, but I’m not really impressed with that type of stuff. I just really like playing basketball. … I know all of that stuff is a part of it, but for me I don’t really get up for that stuff.”
Knicks Coach David Fizdale insisted he hasn’t paid attention to Durant’s contract status. “Not even a little bit. Nope. I don’t even like saying it when it’s not about anything, because he’s a killer,” Fizdale said. “I was watching film on him the other day, and the guy’s just so efficient. He’s a special player. But no, I can’t talk about that other stuff.”
Free agency may be more than eight months away, but the public courting of Kevin Durant has already started. With Durant and the Golden State Warriors in New York to play the New York Knicks on Friday, a marketing company has put up a billboard near Madison Square Garden recruiting Durant to New York. The billboard features Durant in a road Knicks jersey next to Kristaps Porzingis with the question, “Can you make NY sports great again?” posted to Durant’s Instagram handle, @easymoneysniper.
Durant is holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy, something the Knicks last won in 1973. The billboard also features the hashtag #KDNY2019. “My business partner and I are lifelong Knick fans, and we are tired of all the losing, so we decided to do our part to in helping our team recruit the best players the NBA has to offer, because that’s what New York sports deserves,” said Benjamin Pokh, president of the marketing company. The Knicks expect to have enough cap space this summer to pay a max free agent such as Durant. They are one of many clubs who will have strong interest in the former MVP if he opts out of the final year of his contract and tests free agency, as expected.
Sporting News: Knicks fans are already recruiting Kevin Durant.
“I think it’s simple for KD. I think he just tells people one time and one time only. He’ll deal with that when the time comes,” George told Yahoo Sports. “In his mind right now, they’re focusing on a three-peat, they’re focusing on defending that title. That’s the only thing the media needs to worry about. Regardless of if he stays or if he goes, he gave them three great years. That’s what the Bay has to be proud of.” The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will take a run at the back-to-back Finals MVP, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Tim Bontemps: If today was July 1, I think Durant would leave. I think it’s most likely he signs with the Knicks, and if not the Knicks I could see he and Kawhi Leonard teaming up with the Clippers. I would be surprised if he was with anyone but the Knicks, Clippers or Warriors next season, though. And I also won’t be surprised if he changes his mind plenty of times between now and when he makes that decision.
The other 29 teams are thus bound to draw hope from the recent widespread rumbles that Durant will seriously consider signing with the Knicks next summer. Yet my own sense, after some temperature-taking in Vegas, is that more people within the organization than not believe Durant ultimately wants to enjoy at least one season in Golden State’s new San Francisco palace after spending so much off-court time in his first two seasons immersing himself in the Silicon Valley culture.
The Warriors have to brace for the worst, of course, but I don’t sense much Durant apprehension yet. There is even less tangible concern about Thompson, despite the Lakers’ anticipated interest, given how often Klay has publicly said he hopes to spend his whole career as a Warrior. Another factor that should help the Warriors in their quest to hang onto Durant through at least 2020: Irving’s recent proclamation that he intends to stay with the Celtics, as opposed to bolting for the Knicks, would seemingly prevent New York from signing the sidekick most likely to tempt Durant to switch coasts.
Enter the New York Knicks, who have been an Eastern Conference doormat for almost two decades running. After years of sacrificing future draft picks for aging superstars, their new front office has kept their picks, hired a coach in David Fizdale whom players love and are committed to the long haul. And it’s for those reasons above, according to Yahoo!’s Chris Haynes during an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed, that the Knicks have a chance at luring Kevin Durant away from the two-time defending champion Warriors.
Diamond Leung: Enes Kanter to SiriusXM on Kevin Durant: “Who wouldn’t want KD to wear the New York uniform?…We are New York. I think we need to use that. I mean, we are the best city in the world, so I think that can draw a lot of attention for free agency.”
What do you think percentage of Durant going to Knicks? He still seems to care so much about public opinion and have insecurities and this would be change to try and escape all the negative banter. Between him having chance to have his own team, Madison Square Garden, and Rich Klienman’s Knicks connections, I feel like this is similar to Lebron to LA. Ethan Strauss: @Trevor B. No clue of the percentage, but it’s a distinct possibility.
Frazier was asked on the radio show if it was realistic to think that Durant, Kyrie Irving or Jimmy Butler — all potential free agents in 2019 — would sign with the Knicks. “Probably 50-50,” Frazier said. “You never know what these guys are thinking today. It’s not something that I would have done. I would have never joined [Jerry] West or [Bill] Russell or [Wilt] Chamberlain. I wanted to kick their butt.
Knicks fans dreaming of a Durant signing next summer are hereby forewarned: It’s not inconceivable that he may actually choose to make Madison Square Garden home someday, but it’s extremely difficult to imagine the Silicon Valley-loving Durant doing so without playing at least one season in the Warriors’ new Chase Center palace in San Francisco, which doesn’t open until the 2019-20 campaign.
I have no idea. I do know that Rich Kleiman, Durant’s business manager, is from New York. Scott Perry, New York’s GM, was an executive with the Seattle SuperSonics when they drafted Durant and remains close with him. New York will obviously have company pitching Durant, if he hears pitches. (Golden State’s new arena doesn’t open until the 2019-20 season; who could blame Durant for wanting to play in it?) Those suitors will bring track records of basic competency the Dolan-era Knicks have rarely achieved. But New York will try. Next summer is going to be a whirlwind. Rest up.
Zach Lowe: “Kevin Durant is gonna be the single biggest story in the NBA for the next year now that [LeBron James has made his move to the Lakers]. And if you don’t think that all of these teams – like if you think the Knicks noise is bogus, it’s not. I’m not saying [Durant is going the Knicks], I’m saying they’re planning their [next] offseason around him. 100 percent.”
Ian Begley: Here’s Knicks GM Steve Mills on the club not getting a free agent meeting with Kevin Durant: “We knew that KD wanted to go to a team that he felt like had a chance to win the championship this upcoming season and we didn’t fit that bill. But we know that if he had made a decision to do a one and one (with OKC) that we would have a meeting with him because then we would have been one of those teams he would think about for the following year,” Mills said. “…. When he made the decision to go to Golden State…my assumption is that he would stay there.”
The Vertical: Adrian Wojnarowski: Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah recruiting Kevin Durant. Knicks a longshot.
In addition to the Lakers, the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks also are hoping to meet with Durant, according to ESPN sources.
New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told ESPN on Monday that his recruitment of marquee free agent Kevin Durant has already begun and will not be affected “whether he meets with the Knicks or not.” ”I’m with KD now; he’s right downstairs. We’ve been together. We’ve been talking. I do consider myself part of the Knicks, so that meeting has already taken place,” Anthony told ESPN in an interview that will air later Monday on SportsCenter.
“You know, for me, it’s more just about just laying it all out for him, giving him the real. Being in that situation before and knowing how much he has to think about and what he has go through, him not wanting to leave Oklahoma (after) all the time that he spent there, I felt the same way when I was in Denver, spending 7 1/2 years there and then to have to make a decision. But you leave it up to him. He’s going to make the best decision for him. I think that’s the most important thing,” Anthony said.
Marc Stein: Carmelo Anthony tells ESPN that his recruitment of Kevin Durant has already begun, saying: “We’ve been together. We’ve been talking.”
No meeting has been scheduled – or agreed to – between the Knicks and Kevin Durant at this point, sources say. The Knicks are optimistic that they’ll ultimately get consideration from Durant but they were not among the initial group of teams with whom Durant agreed to meet. The Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are the first known teams to secure a meeting with Durant, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
The New York Knicks have earned their way onto Durant’s radar, having traded for Derrick Rose recently to create quite the combination with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Yet as of now, it remains to be seen how that particular scenario will be handled. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.
According to a source, Phil Jackson told Derrick Rose of his plan to pursue Kevin Durant starting on July 1st. That in of itself may be the worst-kept secret in the NBA, along with the notion that Golden State, San Antonio, Miami and both Los Angeles clubs are also planning to recruit Durant. The difference now, however, is that the Knicks are not only selling Durant on Madison Square Garden and Madison Avenue, but also a roster that features a triangle we can all understand; Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Rose, who turns 28 in October.
Asked specifically if the Knicks will target Kevin Durant, whose father is reportedly a Knicks fan, Hornacek demured somewhat, probably because it is tampering to talk about other team’s players before free agency begins July 1. “No, we haven’t talked about the free agency stuff yet,” Hornacek said. “That’s July 1st. Obviously there’s a lot of players out there that we’d love to have if we can get a chance to at least talk to them. We have some money so hopefully we can get a player to fill in for us.”
Durant has told friends that he’s a big fan of Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis, whom he dubbed a “unicorn” last season. League sources say Durant’s opinion on Porzingis and his friendship with Carmelo Anthony are two factors that will likely play a role in how Durant views the Knicks.
Wizards, Celtics, Heat, Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, Spurs and, yes, Warriors … that’s merely where the list of teams known to be actively seeking the chance to court KD face-to-face stands. Aggressive teams like the Raptors and Blazers will presumably try their luck too. And there will surely be others we don’t see yet. As one member of the fallen visitors’ inner circle noted after Durant’s fourth-quarter surge couldn’t quite deny the Warriors in Game 7: It’s far easier to make a list of the teams that won’t have the requisite cap space and ambition to try their luck in a month, thanks to the forthcoming Crazy Cap Spike of 2016, than a list of teams that do.
Kevin Durant is the top free agent but is not currently considering the Knicks, according to sources.
Forget that the Knicks have an unresolved situation at coach, they’ll also need to get creative with the roster just to free up enough cap space for a max free agent. A source told The News that the biggest fish in the summer pond, Kevin Durant, does not consider the Knicks as a destination.
New York faces long odds to land Durant to begin with. But they took a hit after Derek Fisher was fired, league sources say. As noted here previously, Fisher was going to be a factor in Durant’s free agency this summer. But hiring Brooks could get Durant’s attention.
That’s impossible to answer today, but some executives around the league expect the Knicks to at least get an audience with Durant. The 2013-14 MVP has a strong relationship with Carmelo Anthony and head coach Derek Fisher. As noted here, a league source familiar with Durant’s thinking said that Fisher’s presence “will factor in” to the star forward’s decision. Durant also recently spoke highly of Kristaps Porzingis, though how he, Anthony and Porzingis fit together is another question altogether.
“They link everybody with New York City. It’s one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a great city. Great place to visit, great place to live, I’m sure. But they link everybody, not just me,’’ Durant said after the Thunder’s shootaround at the Garden.
“I spent some nice time up here playing basketball in New York City. Some of the most memorable times in my life was coming up here, playing outside, just getting the pure love of the game up here. I remember that, always going to remember that the rest of my life and tell my kids about that when I get older. I come from Maryland. We know how big basketball is here. Of course I enjoy playing here and the Garden. Every movie you watch, you had a scene playing basketball in the Garden. Everything reverts back to being in the Garden, whether [it’s] musicians, basketball players. To play here is just a blessing.’’
Durant was asked if the market size matters and gave his lone answer that could bode well for OKC. “It’s not different,’’ Durant said. “So many games on TV nowadays. Social media gives the game and different players exposure where you are. It really doesn’t better. It’s never been about that for me. It’s been about the game and about being a basketball player first.’’
Now, Melo – who re-signed with the Knicks – is reportedly returning the favor. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN: I know for a fact that Carmelo Anthony has been and will continue to recruit Kevin Durant until the cows come home. I’m also hearing that Kevin Durant is giving the New York Knicks consideration.
Storyline Hype Rumor visits per day for the last week
Views per day
April 24, 2019 | 12:06 pm EDT Update
Donatas Urbonas: Jonas Valanciunas on JB Bickerstaff firing: “It was tough. He liked to play through bigs and I liked how he controlled the team. I think he is really a good coach, but this is the front office decision and I respect it. We have to move forward.”
Damian Lillard invited a few people to his home for dinner on Monday night to watch Game 4 of the first-round series between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets. For several minutes, the Portland Trail Blazers’ star guard sat quietly on his sofa, chowing down on fried catfish, red beans and rice, and broccoli. And then suddenly, he spoke: “I’m getting rid of these mother——- tomorrow.”
Following successful contested jump shots over Lillard, Westbrook would occasionally trot back on defense making the “rock the baby” gesture. For Lillard, it was not warranted, but he didn’t view it as crossing the line. “He was doing that on jump shots,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “That’s not when you’re supposed to rock the baby. You rock the baby after overpowering someone in the post. He had one layup in the post on me. Look it up. I’ll live with his jump shots. He wasn’t rocking no baby on me.”
After Westbrook scores on a player, he often gets animated, shouting and showing up opponents, and this series was no exception. “I’m not even paying attention to it,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “But when I do see it, that’s cool. He does it every game, so it doesn’t bother me. I don’t celebrate in someone’s face and try to disrespect my opponent. But if a team calls a timeout, I’ll go acknowledge the crowd and celebrate with my teammates as I’m going to the bench. I’m not going to say some wild s—. I think with him, he’s pounding his chest and talking s— and that’s what gets him going. That’s the difference between us.”
Westbrook was clearly overmatched in the series and often played into the Trail Blazers’ game plan by attempting so many jumpers. Lillard, who is perhaps the best point guard in the league not named Stephen Curry, said he wanted to dominate his position, but he never wanted to go outside of the team’s scheme to outplay Westbrook. “I took it personal from the jump, but not in the sense of a one-on-one battle with Russ,” he told Yahoo Sports. “Throughout the series, I never bought into the discussion of what people on the outside were saying about our so-called beef. It was never personal with me. I wasn’t going to come down and try to match him shot for shot. I was trying to win. And it’s not hard because it’s OK to embrace the battle. But I wasn’t emotional about it. It’s cool because I know the game is still going to be the game regardless of what he’s saying or doing. My team needs me to keep my cool and lead the right way. Nothing was going to get in the way of that.”