Bleacher Report, citing “league sources,” reported Monday that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have met twice in the past few weeks to talk about their next career moves and that both men brought up the idea, first floated when they were teammates in international play for Team USA, that they could join forces on the same NBA squad.
“At the crux of the rising drama and uncertainty surrounding where some of the league’s top names will ply their trade next season are signals that Irving is as set on playing for the Brooklyn Nets as Durant is bound for the New York Knicks,” Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher wrote. “Which wouldn’t create any problems if not for the fact that Durant and Irving have been plotting for weeks, if not months, to continue their careers on the same team.
“So which scenario will prevail? Good question.”
According to Bucher, Durant is angry at the Golden State Warriors for how they handled his May 8 calf injury and might be holding them responsible in his mind for the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
“He’s really pissed off at the Warriors,” the report quoted a league executive as saying.
Durant and Kyrie have reportedly met twice recently to “discuss their desire to continue their careers on the same team”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 24, 2019
Durant would seem to be headed to the Knicks if you connect all the dots that lead from Oakland to the Big Apple on his career road map.
For one thing, there’s the whole “doesn’t want to play in Golden State” thing, the most obvious starting point for the two-time NBA Finals MVP and one-time regular-season MVP.
In addition, Knicks GM Scott Perry was an assistant to Oklahoma City Thunder GM Sam Presti stretching all the way back to when the Thunder were still the Seattle Supersonics, Durant was drafted second overall in 2007.
Royal Ivey is an assistant coach under David Fizdale for the Knicks, and Durant is the godfather to one of Ivey’s daughters.
Another of Durant’s friends in the league, DeAndre Jordan, joined the Knicks in February in the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.
And finally, the Knicks might be the only team boneheaded enough to offer a four-year max salary to a guy who is likely to miss Year 1 of that contract and who, if the league history of players of his caliber with his injury is any indication, could be a pale shadow of the dominant force he was before he went down in Game 5.
On the other hand, Irving just bought a home in South Orange, New Jersey, and Bucher reported he has been trying to recruit both Durant and Jordan to come with him to the Nets when free agency begins in July.
Irving is on the outs with the Boston Celtics largely because he’s a malcontent who has divided the locker room.
The consensus among NBA executives seems to be that if Irving is the clear second-best player on your team, as he was in Cleveland with LeBron James, he is worth any price, but if he is “the man,” you’ll get a me-first player with no leadership ability who will bark in the media whenever he feels things aren’t going his way.
It’s worth noting that until the ink is dry on any contract, all of this is speculation. As one league executive who has known Durant for the forward’s entire NBA career told Bucher, “Whatever Kevin is planning to do, he is going to change his mind at least 25 times before he actually does it.”
All the same, the Knicks are too obvious a destination not to be the ultimate scenario if the two men become a package deal.
Paying way too much money for a mercurial player who can’t lead and a “should’ve signed him five years ago” player on the downside of his career? Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudamire called, they want their media narrative back.
The move would, quite simply, be the most Knicks thing the Knicks could do, and the mere fact that this seems headed for complete dumpster fire status only seems to prove it.
The free agency moratorium ends July 6. We’ll see then just what surface the dust decides to settle on.
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