In a podcast that took on a number of issues related to the recent trade deadline —the Lakers attempt to get Anthony Davis, the Knicks trade of Kristaps Porzingis, three of ESPN’s top basketball writers discussed how the Nets, rather than the Knicks, might be the better option for top free agents like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Brian Windhorst, Jackie MacMullan and Tim MacMahon discussed Windhorst’s contention that Brooklyn has at least as much going to them as the Knicks, which he dismissed as a “one messed up organization” and whose vaunted history is “crap.”
It also featured MacMullen’s unsolicited and enthusiastic portrayal of the HSS Training Center which she called “spectacular,” “the best in the league ... and it isn’t even close.”
“They are going to be in the playoffs this year,” Windhorst started his argument. “They have good young pieces. They have salary cap space and they have a coach that people like. And soon, I don’t know the date, they will have the NBA’s first Chinese owner in Joseph Tsai who is going to be one of the richest owners in America. They have a chance to become the NBA’s Chinese team.“
So he argues what’s not to like about the Nets?
“Am I way off base about Kevin Durant, thinking about the Knicks and Kyrie thinking about the Knicks, whomever, Am I crazy here to suggest that the Nets are an option here? Am I crazy here, MacMahon?”
When MacMahon paused, WIndhorst doubled down on the Knicks, calling it “a messed up organization.” MacMahon then contended there’s “history” there at Madison Square Garden. Windhorst cut him off, repeating, “the history is crap. the history is crap.”
MacMahon then notes the Garden is “the biggest stage on the East Coast and that really matters to Kevin Durant,” without suggesting how he knows that. Under more intense questioning about whether a team that features KD, Dennis Smith Jr. and, say, the fourth pick in the draft, Cam Reddish, rather than Zion Williamson, can compete for a championship, MacMahon countered by saying what if they get Kyrie Irving too? ”They are capable of competing in the East” with KD and Kyrie, MacMahon argued.
WIndhorst wasn’t buying it and again pushed the idea, why not the Nets? He suggested finding space for two max contracts wouldn’t require major surgery ... although some of the moves might not be popular.
”Let me ask you this, Why can’t he and Kyrie go to Brooklyn?” he asked MacMahan. “When you have Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris. To make that happen, they have to off load Allen Crabbe and the Nets were offering their draft pick. Allen Crabbe was on offer for a first round pick. They didn’t get a taker, but okay, maybe they get a taker next summer. They would have to renounce D’Angelo Russell.”
Windhorst’s colleague Zach Lowe reported over the weekend that the Nets offered Crabbe and the Nuggets pick to Memphis for Grant Temple and Jamychal Green. Memphis went in another direction.
”I’m just saying, am I ridiculously off base here?” Windhorst asks again.
MacMahon concedes he is not. ”It deserves to be mentioned and obviously, the Clippers are lurking as well.”
At that point, Jackie McMullen, mostly silent during the discussion (other than to confirm Windhorst’s comment about the Nets offering a first with Crabbe) asks her colleagues whether they had ever been to the Nets $52 million training facility, the HSS Training Center. You won’t hear a more positive appraisal even from the Nets.
”I will tell you this,” McMullan started, “It is spectacular. It is the nicest one in the league. And it is not even close. The facilities they have... Go to the rooftop, Brian. In fact if you’re listening, Kenny Atkinson and those guys, invite Brian down to a tour of this place. They have a roof deck with 360 degree views of the Manhattan Skyline, the Statue of Liberty.
“They have a dining room and a private chef for their players. They have state-of-the-art rehabilitative facilities. cold tubs, hot tubs, all that sort of thing. The court is spectacular. I’m telling you there is nothing nicer. I’ve seen all of them —maybe not ALL of them— but it is far and away the nicest facility I’ve seen in the NBA. It’s not even close.”
When Windhorst started to rattle off the names of teams who have built “spectacular” new training facilities, McMullan refused to back down.
”They don’t have a 360 degree view of the skyline.” she said of the other facilities. “you gotta go see it Brian to understand what I’m talking about. It is a cut above.”
After the two agreed that the Knicks facilities in Westchester were decidedly not among the best in the NBA, Windhorst made his core argument again.
“I just think it’s relevant to point out that the Brooklyn Nets have a max slot and could get another max slot without having to move heaven and earth. It could happen.” Windhorst said
When MacMahon pointed to Knicks optimism that they are going to get someone big and posed the possibility that the Knicks may know something, WIndhorst said he’s seen a lot of optimistic thinking from the Knicks over the years, suggesting it rarely bares fruit.
Windhorst is just the latest ESPN reporter to suggest that the image KD descending out of hoop heaven to enlighten the Garden may be a bit rosy.
Back in December, Adrian Wojnarowski told WFUV, the Fordham radio station that players like Durant —and other superstars— want a track record, a reliable roster before choosing to join a club with a history of losing.
Woj said New York will probably “get a meeting” with the Finals MVP, but didn’t think much of their chances to actually sign him.
“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.”