Much like many New York Knicks fans, I created scenarios in my head that saw us winning championships for five straight seasons at the very least. On the eve of free agency, which began June 30 at 6:00 p.m., that all changed. The countless rumors that saw Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving pairing up on the Knicks fell apart within the first hour of the moratorium period. This is what we’ll be discussing.
Zion Williamson eradicated half of college basketball, much like Thanos. During that time, the rumors for Durant and Irving stacked as high as the Empire State Building could allow. That’s how Knicks fans began foaming at the mouth.
A 14 percent chance at the first overall pick felt like a guarantee. That led to the belief we’d see all three aforementioned players suit up in blue and orange. They would guide the franchise to a historic run the likes none have ever seen.
Madison Square Garden would resound with deafening cheers. Manhattan would rumble with the stomping of feet as Irving bounce passes the ball to Durant who proceeds to lob the ball to Williamson for a destructive slam.
Long story short, Durant and Irving are venturing to the Brooklyn Nets, the supposed favorite for a little while now. DeAndre Jordan — a close friend of Durant — will be joining them, as both players plan to take a slightly reduced contract to allow him to sign a contract worth $10 million per year. At the time of writing, the Golden State Warriors confirmed a sign-and-trade deal that sends D’Angelo Russell and others to the Warriors in exchange for Durant. Russell helped the Nets reach the playoffs for the first time in half a decade. He has also helped secure, arguably, the best player in basketball.
While it was perceived the Knicks had a better young core to attract big-name players, this notion has been proven wrong. This is even with them drafted R.J. Barrett with the third overall pick. Some would say the inability to draft Williamson could have swayed the opportunity for Durant to sign and understandably so. While achieving all three goals of Williamson, Durant and Irving seemed like a stretch, expecting one of the three didn’t feel impossible.
James Dolan is who he is
Reportedly, James Dolan was not confident enough to sign Durant because he was worried the recovery process for Durant’s achilles would not go well. In retrospect, this appears to be the primary reasoning for Durant heading to Brooklyn with Irving and company. As a result, the Knicks moved on in free agency discussions. They have agreed to sign Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis. This leaves the Knicks with roughly $25.5 million in cap space.
The Knicks get to build their young core of Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox, Barrett, etc. while also procuring a veteran who can help the younger big men develop, much like Jordan did this past season. Knox was the youngest rookie in franchise history to score 30 points in a game, and was sixth-youngest in NBA history to do so. Robinson, meanwhile, blocked 161 shot attempts in under 18 minutes per game. He showcased his defensive awareness among top centers like Rudy Gobert and Myles Turner.
Free agency is far from over, and some big names are still on the board. While it is highly unlikely, Kawhi Leonard is within reach. Evidently it is difficult to imagine Leonard signing with the Knicks coming off his second championship and Finals MVP. The strong belief for Leonard’s free agency decision resides in Los Angeles or back in Toronto. All Knicks fans should be tempering expectations here, especially after the Durant news.
The more likely scenario is rounding out the roster with capable veterans and young fellows who can bolster the team and help the core three of Barrett, Robinson and Knox improve their skills. It is unclear what direction Scott Perry and Steve Mills are looking in at the moment, but the path of rebuilding seems imminent.
This brings me to the conclusion of my rant. I may not share similar sentiments with many Knicks fans here, but I wasn’t too mad about missing out on Durant and Irving. While Dolan’s remarks got under my skin, I was remarkably level-headed once news of the Randle signing broke.
I’ve been with the Knicks for eight years, and I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions because of that. This is my chance to watch an entirely young and new team grow together and alter each other’s mentalities. Maybe we were never meant to skip steps and should always have anticipated taking baby steps following the Phil Jackson era. I’m maintaining some optimism and am ready to watch things pan out with the current roster makeup, you should be too.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.