NBA free agency has arrived and, to the surprise of some, Kevin Durant will not be a member of the New York Knicks. The injured superstar will join Kyrie Irving on the rival Brooklyn Nets rather than the NBA’s most valuable franchise, to the laughter of many.
How could the Knicks, flush with cap space this offseason, let this happen? Well, according to one report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, Knicks chairman James Dolan wasn’t actually that ready to giving a max contract to Durant.
The Knicks and owner Jim Dolan were not prepared to offer Kevin Durant a full max contract due to concerns over his recovery from the Achilles injury, league sources tell me and @wojespn. Knicks officials are in Los Angeles tonight, meeting with free agents such as Julius Randle.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 30, 2019
It’s worth noting that this could just be damage control from the Knicks, the classic “I was never that into you” defense.
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Then again, this is the James Dolan Knicks we’re talking about. Of course they could have willingly walked away from any chance at signing one of the five best players in the NBA because of an injury.
To demonstrate how everything has apparently been going according to plan, Knicks president Steve Mills released a statement Sunday night saying the team was “upbeat” about its plans to “compete for championships in the future.”
Statement from Knicks President, Steve Mills. pic.twitter.com/b1k0CZLJWV
— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) July 1, 2019
Durant went down in the NBA Finals with a right Achilles tendon rupture and will likely have to miss most if not all of next season while rehabbing the injury. It also isn’t guaranteed he’ll be 100 percent when he makes it back to the court because of the rough history of his specific injury.
And yet, missing out on Durant almost certainly condemns the Knicks to another rebuilding season, after so many hopes that this would be the year the team turns it around. Even if Durant only returns at 80 percent of his former self, that player is still probably better than all but a handful of free agents available this offseason or the next. If he comes back at full strength, the Knicks could be relegated to the No. 2 team in town behind the Nets, if they’re not already due to the presence of Irving.
In response, the Knicks have signed former New Orleans Pelicans big man Julius Randle to a $63 million deal. We’ll see what blockbuster move they deliver next.
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