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Doc Rivers thought Kevin Durant would wind up ‘King of New York’ but got team wrong

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Los Angeles Clippers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Nets marketing campaign for next season portrays them as the “Kings of New York,” not Brooklyn. It’s based on the expected, hoped-for return of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ... and subtly, the continued mismanagement of their cross-river rivals who can’t seem to get out of their own way.

Now comes Doc Rivers, who appeared Wednesday on “The Boardroom” podcast, with Durant’s agent/manager Rich Kleiman. Rivers, the Clippers coach, said that he too thought that the KD would wind up as the “the King of New York City.” He just got the team wrong.

“Early on, I was like, ok, Rich is from New York, (Durant) can be the King of New York City, I got a feeling KD is going to the Knicks.

“Listen, I’m in the league and I actually thought that so you know everybody else thought it as well.”

Indeed, many people felt the Kleiman connection would win the day for James Dolan’s club. He is a long-time Knicks fan and he chose Manhattan for the headquarters of Thirty-Five Ventures, his and KD’s holding company. Knick fans put two and two together and got five.

Indeed, Kleiman has said he was surprised KD decided to choose the Nets. In fact, though, the Nets had long been targeting the two. In April, team officials privately expressed confidence about a big haul in free agency. By May, Kenny Atkinson was telling Woj, “We’re going to have options. A, I think we all know what A is. There’s some great players out there. But we also feel comfortable with B, C and D that if it doesn’t go our way in free agency.”

Around the same time, reporters like Stefan Bondy and Anthony Puccio were writing that the Nets were in a good position to land KD and Kyrie and by late June, Marc Stein was writing that the two wanted the Nets to sign DeAndre Jordan.

In the end, neither superstar took a meeting with the Knicks and at Nets Media Day, Durant said he had thought about the Knicks “for a couple seconds ... but ultimately, I wanted to be here.”