Sources: Knicks Forgo Max Deal For Durant Due To Injury Concerns
The Knicks were "not prepared to offer" Kevin Durant the four-year, $164M contract he eventually committed to with the Nets because of "concerns about his recovery from his Achilles injury," according to sources cited by Shelburne & Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. Durant had "long been a focus for the Knicks" to sign this offseason, but their thinking "changed after Durant's injury" during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The two parties "never discussed financial terms of a possible deal" (ESPN.com, 6/30). The Athletic's Frank Isola said of the Knicks' reasoning for not offering Durant a contract, "I'm not buying that for a minute." He said, "Everything they did was about Kevin Durant. This is the Knicks not wanting to look like they have egg on their face" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 7/1). In N.Y., Kyle Wagner writes from a "certain light, this seems like a cautious decision from a franchise that has been burned by Allan Houston, Eddy Curry, and Amar'e Stoudemire." But Durant is "not those players." This is an "obvious attempt to save face as the most famous player" in this summer's free agent class "chooses the team across town" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/1).
SLAP TO THE FACE: On Long Island, Barbara Barker writes yesterday was "one of the most disappointing days in Knicks history." The Knicks "tore their franchise down to the studs," trading away Kristaps Porzingis to "open up two max spots" for this offseason. But the Nets "swooped in and took their cheese" (NEWSDAY, 7/1). In N.Y., Marc Berman writes Kyrie Irving's "leap to the Nets was expected for two weeks, but Durant's decision was a slap-in-the-face stunner after many months of inaccurate reports elsewhere stating it was a 'done deal' with the Knicks" (N.Y. POST, 7/1). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith in a video posted yesterday to Twitter said the Nets in three years have "accomplished what we've been waiting for" the Knicks to "pull off for a half-century" (NJ.com, 6/30). SNY.tv's Ian Begley writes the Knicks have had "so many low points over the last 20 years," but what happened yesterday is "near the top of the list." The fact that the Knicks' "top two targets throughout the season picked the cross-town rival Nets should cause" Owner James Dolan and President Steve Mills to "self reflect" (SNY.tv, 7/1). THE RINGER's Paolo Uggetti wrote the Knicks have "everything a star player is supposed to want," but the "one thing they don't have is what the Nets have come to be defined by: organizational stability" (THERINGER.com, 6/30).
REACHING A LOW POINT: THE ATHLETIC's Isola wrote the Knicks yesterday "suffered one of the biggest defeats in franchise history." The Knicks' way is "not working and everyone in the organization, from Dolan on down, has to take some responsibility for that" (THEATHLETIC.com, 6/30). NBC's Craig Melvin said, "It's a huge loss but here's the thing Knicks' fans will tell you: they're used to being disappointed in the offseason" ("Today," NBC, 7/1). In N.Y., Cacciola & Stein write as yesterday rolled around, it was "looking like more of the same for the Knicks: false hope and searing disappointment" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/1). ESPN.com's Zach Lowe writes yesterday's news is "obviously a gut punch" for the Knicks. They are "stung at Madison Square Garden -- and embarrassed" (ESPN.com, 7/1). THE RINGER's Dan Devine wrote the Knicks "may well add quality players this summer, but they'll once again fall short in the chase for the kind of transformative talents who can reinvigorate an organization and breathe new life into a fan base starved for a reason to believe" (THERINGER.com, 6/30).
STARTS AT THE TOP: In N.Y., Stefan Bondy writes Dolan "looks like the fool" following yesterday's news. Durant is the "gamble the Knicks were always willing to take, and the post-mortem 'we didn't want him anyway' spin feels icky." Bondy: "Just more pettiness" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/1). THE RINGER's Sean Fennessey wrote Dolan is the "biggest and perhaps the only reason" the Knicks "did not acquire a single superstar free agent during the rowdiest and most exciting offseason in the NBA's history." Whether Dolan is "covering his ass after it was spurned or he actually declined to open his checkbook for a distressed asset ... both options are bleak." Either the league's players will "regard his conservative approach with contempt, or he's a liar." Fennessey: "No outcome is good for Knicks fans. This may be worse" (THERINGER.com, 6/30).