Two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant is heading to New York…just not the Knicks. Fellow star Kyrie Irving will join Durant in Brooklyn playing for the Nets.
The New York Knicks have struck out not once but twice on top All-Star targets in free agency. Both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving plan to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Durant and Irving have long been the Knicks’ top target. Following the Kristaps Porzingis trade, which also created two possible maximum contracts available for the franchise in the summer, speculation soon spread over New York’s attempt to pair the free agent All-Stars together. However, as free agency started to approach during the month of June, it became apparent that first Irving was heading towards Brooklyn.
Last Wednesday, Durant declined the player option of his contract with the Golden State Warriors, denying $31.5 million and instead choosing to sign with another team in free agency or re-sign with the Warriors. Ultimately, the former second-overall pick decided to find new pastures, or in this case, blocks of brownstones.
For New York, missing out on both Durant and Irving is both not the end of the world, and a hurtful turn of events in favor of their Atlantic Division rivals. In spite of their NBA-worst 17-65 record in the 2018–19 season, they didn’t receive the first pick in the draft and instead had to settle with the third, drafting Duke scoring machine R.J. Barrett. Now, as the open market sharpens more clearly, the Knicks will have to fill out a roster that can work with their young talent and build towards long-term contention.
Durant returned from a calf injury for the Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors but in the process ruptured his Achilles tendon. Teammate Klay Thompson would later tear his ACL in the following game, one where Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors clinched the franchise’s first title.
Kevin Durant was heavily recruited to re-sign with the Warriors, or sign elsewhere for franchises like the Los Angeles Clippers and the Knicks.
Durant is a 10-time All-Star, two-time NBA champion and Finals MVP with Golden State, four-time league scoring champion, league MVP for the 2013–14 season, two-time All-Star Game MVP, former Rookie of the Year, and nine-time All-NBA team member.
At 6-foot-9 with tremendous shooting touch, “KD” has been an elite player in the Association for a decade, turning into a nearly unstoppable all-around player—scoring from all areas of the floor, rebounding, playmaking, and defending well above his position. The question now turns to how much of his form can Durant return to following surgery rehabilitation.
In his career, Durant has averaged 27 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.1 blocks per game, shooting 49.3% from the floor, 38.1% from three, and 88.3% from the free throw line. Last season alone Durant put up 26 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists shooting north of 52% from the field and 35% from three. In 12 playoff games in 2019, Durant averaged 32.3 points per game, shooting 51.4% from the field, 43.8% from three, and 90.3 from the charity stripe (Basketball-Reference).
Julius Randle is high on the Knicks’ list of free agents following Irving and Durant’s joint decision to sign with Brooklyn.