We’re starting to get into the thickest part of rumor season. Game 3 of the NBA Finals are tonight, so all but two teams are done and prepping for the draft and free agency. It’s an exciting time if you’re into rumors. There’s a new one going around, and it isn’t good.
The ideal plan for the Knicks offseason is signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving with the two max slots that the front office has at their disposal. Neither are particularly easy men to predict, but KD has slowly become considered a foregone conclusion to end up in orange and blue. That’s cool. Ideally, we sign both dudes and then investigate a trade for Anthony Davis that would immediately create the best trio in basketball. There may be a problem emerging with the plan, though.
There are reports going around that Kyrie Irving is leaning towards the Brooklyn Nets rather than the Knicks. They’ve always sounded like they were in the picture for Kyrie, but we are hearing more details about how things could go. For instance, we have started hearing this week that there are rumors that while Kyrie himself prefers the Knicks, the people in his camp prefer the Nets so he is leaning that way. In a vaccuum, I think we can all agree that that is probably fine. There are other guys that can be paired with KD in New York and it would still work out.
The issue is two-fold in that (1) Kyrie is reportedly pushing KD to come to the Nets with him and (2) KD may be considering a re-up with Golden State more strongly than what has previously been reported.
There is an increasingly-likely situation, it feels, that KD could stay in Golden State. Between the injury situation and the way the finals have gone so far, it feels like there is a chance KD could stay. Game 3, while will not feature KD and may not feature Klay Thompson either, will determine a lot for how the series could shake out from this point forward. Especially if the Warriors lose, KD can justify staying. He’s proven, then, that they do need him to win and then he wouldn’t have to uproot his life and move to another city with another team where it will be much harder to win. He could also elect to just come back for another 1+1 contract, even if they do win this year, and do the free agency thing next offseason after he wins four straight championships and this year’s free agency class sorts itself out and he has a better idea of the landscape of the league. The difference between ages 31 and 32 for KD really shouldn’t and wouldn’t mean anything. Reporters are saying that he may be reconsidering things after being injured and realizing how hard it can be to win a championship. Does he really want to join the 17-win Knicks, even with another free agent and an exciting young core?
The Nets thing is interesting, too. It is believable, for sure, that they can get a max guy. They have a solid group in place that is one piece away from being contenders in the East. The hard part, of course, is that that one piece has to be their best piece. Anyway, it would take quite a bit of roster shuffling to get enough money off the books to create two max slots for Brooklyn, including allowing D’Angelo Russell to walk in restricted free agency, in all likelihood. We could see that happening, though, right? The guys that we wanted eventually wind up going to the little brother team in town (though they’ve been much better run for a while now)? Nightmare fuel. The Nets snagging Kyrie would be bad enough, and it is also a believable situation, considering they’ve always been considered in the mix for Kyrie. It isn’t the most likely thing in the world, though, that Brooklyn swings both of those guys.
I think my big point here is that I am scared. I am much less confident than I was, say, three weeks ago that KD is coming to New York, let alone him and another free agent that deserves a max contract. I’m crossing my fingers as hard as anyone has crossed fingers that if the plan falls through they don’t overpay Tobias Harris or anyone like that just because they have the cap space. They should be acquiring other teams bad contracts in exchange for more picks, etc., but that is a blog for a different day.