The New York Knicks drew chuckles across the basketball world after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signed with the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets rather than resurrect James Dolan’s team.
As it turns out, the pair’s move shouldn’t have been a surprise.
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly planned Nets move for months
After insisting they were never actually that interested in Durant, the Knicks picked up a number of lesser-known players headlined by big man Julius Randle’s three-year, $63 million deal.
Among that group was former Washington Wizards power forward Bobby Portis, who told The Athletic that he was quite aware who would not be his teammates on the Knicks as he negotiated with the team:
“I knew what was gonna happen in February,” he said. “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.”
(No, he won’t tell you how he knows. Even players don’t reveal their sources. “I’m not going to leak my source,” he said. “But we all know where they were going. I’m protecting mine, but we all knew where they were going.”)
When Durant and Irving decided to team up remains a little unclear, but it now seems obvious that this was in the works for months.
There were rumblings that Durant and Irving had some kind of pact last season, especially after a video of the pair strongly discussing something leaked last February following a the Kristaps Porzingis trade that left the Knicks with enough cap space for two max contracts.
The speculation grew quite loud while the Warriors fought for a third straight title, to the point that Durant castigated the media for chatter that he was heading to the Knicks:
I have nothing to do with the Knicks, I don’t know who traded [Kristaps] Porzingis. They’ve got nothing to do with me. I’m trying to play basketball. Y’all come in here every day, ask me about free agency, ask my teammates, my coaches, rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball, that’s all I’m saying.
The who and what turned out to be true. The where, not so much.
In retrospect, the Nets’ stronger roster and less turbulent brain trust made a lot more sense for a pair of stars looking for their next destination.
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