It never ends.
You know the narrative; The Knicks wudda, cudda, shudda gotten Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving if it wasn’t for (fill in the blanks).
It rose from the dead (pun not really intended but appropriate anyway) again this week with Ian Begley of SNY quoting “some people in touch with the Knicks” as saying “members of the organization expressed confidence that Durant would have signed with New York if he hadn’t suffered the Achilles injury in the NBA Finals, per SNY sources.”
Moreover, writes Begley, “To play out the hypothetical a bit more, if Durant had signed with the Knicks, he wasn’t coming alone. So he would have had to convince Irving to sign with New York instead of Brooklyn or recruited a different star to the Garden.”
Apparently, “Baghdad Bob,” who you may remember from Saddam Hussein’s great victory in the Gulf War, now works for Madison Square Garden. And just like “Baghdad Bob”s messaging,, this one is smelly bull excrement.
Here’s the facts:
NONE of the top free agents in last year’s monster class deigned to even meet with the Knicks, let alone considered signing with them. Not Kevin Durant. Not Kyrie Irving. Not Kawhi Leonard. Not Klay Thompson. Not Jimmy Butler. Not Kemba Walker, Not even Tobias Harris, a Knicks fan when he grew up on Long Island. The well was poisoned. Everyone in the NBA knows that, particularly the players.
More importantly, Durant and Irving have said repeatedly that the Nets were their first choice early on. And Durant wasn’t recruiting Irving. It was a mutual decision borne out of friendship. So once again, we are forced to review the public comments of Durant in particular. (Sigh)
On Media Day last September, Durant was asked if he considered the Knicks.
“I thought about it for a couple seconds,” he deadpanned. Burn.
Instead, he and Irving talked about what they liked in Brooklyn, not what they disliked elsewhere.
“It’s not like I had to do any deep analysis of any player here,” said Durant. “Just watching games and playing against them and seeing the continuity throughout the last couple of years, it was pretty easy to figure out what kind of team and what kind of organization this place is.”
Similarly, Irving touched on how they fit in.
“Just talking about our futures and how this opportunity ahead of us is something that we haven’t had in our careers,” said Irving, “the ability to make a choice, sitting down, actually talking in detail about the future and the investment we had in each other and the investment we wanted to have in Brooklyn, so it made sense all the way around, and then having the incredible people they have in the organization made it that much easier. It made us feel like All-Stars.”
The two also liked the Nets willingness to take on two of their best buds, DeAndre Jordan and Garrett Temple.
Then, there was 75-minute interview Durant gave Showtime’s “All the Smoke,” in February, which we dutifully transcribed and reported.
The Nets, he said, were always at the top of his list. Asked by Matt Barnes if he considered any other team, he responded that he had taken a “peek” at New York. That’s it. Nothing more.
“Not really. I looked at the Clippers. I took a peek at the Knicks through my due diligence but I really wanted to play for the black-and-white,” Durant said. “I liked the brand. Brooklyn was an up-and-coming city that needed some new flair. new basketball injection. Because being in Oklahoma City, I knew what that was like, having a new franchise around. I was excited about hopefully doing something like that again in Brooklyn with a new team.”
The pairing with Irving played a big role, he noted.
“Playing with Kyrie Irving who’s from Jersey and got that tie with the Jersey side of things. We could bring them home,” he said. “We could bring in so many fans. So we had a solid thing going. You know what I’m sayin?”
He noted as well that he felt comfortable with a couple of guys on the Nets basketball operations staff, The Nets trainer, Sebastien Poirier, and assistant coach, Adam Harrington, were close to Durant when they were all in OKC. Poirier was an assistant trainer with the Thunder, Harrington the shooting coach. Durant and Harrington had a particularly strong relationship. Then, there was the friendships Durant and Irving had with Nets players, KD with Caris LeVert, Kyrie with Spencer Dinwiddie.
But there’s something else that hasn’t gotten a lot of play that ruins the silly Knick propaganda about KD wanting the Knicks until he went down on June 10, early in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Nets were supremely confident of their chances well before that. A year ago this week, a Nets insider practically gushed when we asked about the Nets prospects in free agency. Not naming names, but he said he expected the Nets to have a very successful off-season.
Then, there was the interview Adrian Wojnarowski did with Kenny Atkinson at the NBA Draft Combine in mid-May, nearly a month before KD blew out his Achilles. We dutifully transcribed and reported that one too. Atkinson excitedly talked about free agency.
““[I]t’s a real fantastic opportunity. We’re going to have options. A, I think we all know what A is. There’s some great players out there,” Atkinson said. “But we also feel comfortable with B, C and D that if it doesn’t go our way in free agency.”
Indeed everyone following the NBA knew “what A is” (except maybe the Knicks).
So, the reality was that it was no secret. Hell, even Bobby Portis who signed with the Knicks in the aftermath of their catastrophic free agency said he knew KD and Kyrie were headed to Brooklyn.
“I knew what was gonna happen in February,” Portis said on signing with the Knicks. “We all knew that (Durant and Kyrie Irving would go to Brooklyn). Everybody knew that. I just don’t think the media knew that. Us basketball players, we all knew that.”
He wasn’t alone, Tobias Harris said virtually the same thing.
“You heard a lot of rumblings before about it. I didn’t know for 100%, but if I had to make my guess, I would’ve said Kyrie and Kevin were going to the Nets. Kind of all season long you heard different rumblings. That would’ve been my educated guess.”
Irving said on Media Day that he let the Nets know —he didn’t say how— of his interest early on and Danny Ainge admitted that Irving told him in March or April that he wanted to “go home.”
“He did express to me on a couple of occasions between March and the end of (the year) that he really wanted to go home,” Ainge said. “I got the impression at that point that he wanted to play in Brooklyn more than he wanted to play in New York.”
There’s more if you want to read it. We’re written it before in even more depth than you see here. But here’s the point. Despite their claim that they’ve moved on, Knicks brass is still gaslighting, still prevaricating. It’s an example of why even this late in the game, they are still not a first choice.