Once the current NBA season ends, several stars players are expected to test free agency, including Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, and others.
There’s a great deal of speculation over which players will end up on which team, with several organizations, including the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers, among the teams with large amounts of salary cap space.
A couple of reports this week indicate that one particular marriage of team and player is seen as likely by many around the league — Durant to the Knicks.
“Throughout this season I’ve asked several NBA executives, agents, scouts, assistant coaches about Kevin Durant,” reporter Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News said on Twitter Friday. “Most believe he’s headed to the Knicks.”
Meanwhile, according to a tweet by NBC‘s Tommy Beer, The Ringer‘s Bill Simmons appeared this week on Mike Francesca’s WFAN radio show and also stated that he would “bet the house” on Durant signing with New York.
The 30-year-old Durant currently plays for the Golden State Warriors, where he is in his third season; the team has won NBA championships in his first two years. Prior to Golden State, Durant played for the Oklahoma City Thunder, including one season where the franchise was still known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Durant, a native of Maryland, has never played for a team in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks, with their trade of Kristaps Porzingis to Dallas prior to the trade deadline back in February, cleared a massive amount of salary cap space, in order to have enough room for two maximum contracts in the coming offseason. In addition, the team currently has, by a wide margin, the worst record in the NBA, putting them in position for a high pick in this year’s NBA Draft.
The team could sign free agents, or attempt to package that high draft pick in a trade for a star player such as Anthony Davis, who reports back in February by The New York Times indicated would be willing to sign an extension with the Knicks, should the Pelicans trade him to New York.
However, the Knicks have not historically had a great deal of success landing star free agents. And the recent incident in which Durant complained about the media that covers the Warriors, per Sports Illustrated, raises questions about how well Durant would handle the much tougher media environment in New York.