And this, of course, is why the NBA is so much fun.
Specifically, this is how the NBA can be every bit as interesting, and every bit as intriguing, when there are no games being played as some of the other sports are when they’re in-season, when there’s a full slate.
Every rational instinct, every reasonable impulse, screams that the Knicks should stay away from Kevin Durant. He was the best basketball player on the planet until his Achilles blew up a few weeks ago. And in the moments before that happened, the Knicks had every reason to throw every resource at him, to employ every trick in the book to try and recruit him.
Durant is a game-changer for a team like the Knicks, and as Reggie Jackson once said a long time ago: “I didn’t come to New York to be a star; I brought my star with me.”
Same deal for Durant. Until the Achilles. The Achilles changed everything. Signing him for four years when the most you’d get out of him is three was itself fool’s gold. It becomes a pile of fool’s diamonds when you consider Durant wouldn’t play a game for the Knicks until he was 32, coupled with the fact an Achilles injury is just about the worst thing that can happen to a basketball player.
Bad luck happens.
And this was rotten luck.
But now comes the news, reported Saturday by ESPN, that Durant and Kawhi Leonard have discussed the idea of teaming up somewhere. It isn’t known if they’ve talked about this directly, or through their respective agents and entourages, but it’s solid enough that it is suddenly necessary to step on the brakes and re-evaluate everything as free agency dawns at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard may suddenly team up with Knicks
Could Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard team up? That possibility…
Because there are just two teams where this could reasonably make sense. One is the L.A. Clippers. One is the Knicks. Now, the Clippers would enter that race, if it becomes one, a few strides up on the Knicks because they have the readier-made team, they employ a championship coach, and they lack much of the drama that so regularly percolates at Two Penn Plaza.
But the Knicks already were on both players’ lists for when the free agency bazaar opens for business Sunday. They were already going to get a seat at the table, be given the chance to make a pitch. And now, it feels like they are back to where they were before Durant’s Achilles sent him reeling to the court in Toronto.
One shot, one chance, to change everything.
As Bud Fox said: “Life comes down to a few moments. This is one of them.”
If Leonard comes along with Durant, you can happily live with Durant taking the equivalent of a medical redshirt next year. Leonard is enough to make the Knicks a playoff team, and has enough gravitas that the kids already on the roster will flock to him as a mentor and veterans looking for intriguing landing spots would gravitate here to take part in this fascinating experiment.
Then once this season ends where it probably would — 45-48 wins, a competitive turn in the playoffs — comes the best part of all.
Durant joining Leonard.
Knicks and Terry Rozier thinking alike as interest grows
If he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Knicks’ point guard…
And wouldn’t that be something to behold.
Even if Durant returns 80 percent the player he was, Leonard and Durant would electrify Manhattan the way no duo has since Max Bialystok and Leo Bloom — a fast-forwarded version of Pearl and Clyde back in the day converted to bigs rather than backcourt. In that context, Durant wouldn’t be expected to recapture every ounce of his, say, 2017 or 2018 form. He could just play. And just thinking about that is enough to make you dream.
And maybe that’s all it is, a dream. Maybe the reality is that if anyone is going to make a two-man splash in the coming days around here it will be the Nets, bringing Kyrie Irving to town now and wrapping Durant in bubble wrap for the next 15 months. As much of a positive as that would be for the Nets (who are in far better position to roll the dice with Durant than the Knicks are), it would force the Knicks to stay focused on the smart (but slow) rebuild to which they are no committed. That would be the right thing to do.
But, man, a KD-Kawhi pairing on Broadway?
That wouldn’t just be the right thing. That would be a whole other category. If.
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