NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Aren’t ‘Tough Enough’ To Play For Knicks, Charles Barkley Says

Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics shoots against Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant.
Maddie Meyer / Getty Images

Although the New York Knicks currently sit at the bottom of the entire NBA with a league-worst 13-54 record, many fans are looking forward to what the team has planned for the 2019 offseason. Aside from their having the best chance of winning the lottery for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, the Knicks have been considered by many as the leading candidates to sign prospective free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, Basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley appears to be one person who doesn’t see much of a future for either superstar in the Big Apple.

In a series of tweets posted on Tuesday afternoon, Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina recapped his recent conversation with Barkley, where the legendary power forward and Inside the NBA co-host commented on Durant and Irving’s chances of living up to their potential if they sign with the Knicks this summer. As Barkley sees it, neither player has the mental toughness required to make it in one of the NBA’s biggest markets.

“I don’t think Durant or Kyrie are tough enough to play in NY,” Barkley said, as quoted by Traina.

“Kyrie’s a very good player. Kevin’s a great, great player. But Im not sure they have the mental make up to play in NY. Those guys are complaining about the media asking questions. Maybe NY isnt for them.”

As noted by Bleacher Report, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are just two superstar-level players who are expected to lead what has been described as one of the most “loaded” free-agency classes in recent NBA history. While players such as Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and Klay Thompson also have expiring contracts or are expected to opt out of the final year of their contracts, Durant and Irving have specifically been linked to the New York Knicks more than they have been to most other teams.

Even if the Knicks end up missing out on Durant and/or Irving, the recent trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks ensured that the team would have enough salary cap space to sign two free agents to maximum contracts in the summer of 2019, Bleacher Report added. The outlet also suggested that the Knicks could gain more leverage in a prospective trade for New Orleans Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis if they end up with the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, as they could bundle that pick with other young players to come up with an enticing trade package for the Pelicans.

“The possibility of a Durant-Irving-Davis trio in New York is terrifying for the rest of the NBA, even if those three players would need time to adjust to playing with one another,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Timothy Rapp.

Regarding Barkley’s concern about Durant and Irving’s perceived lack of toughness, Rapp pointed out that both players, to their credit, have experience with high-pressure situations. He noted that Durant was expected to turn the Golden State Warriors into a legitimate super-team when he signed with the club in 2016, while Irving, who currently plays for the Boston Celtics, previously teamed up with LeBron James and played in several NBA Finals series during their time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.