Billionaire’s sad New York ‘clown show’
Knicks owner James Dolan's worst nightmare has unfolded as the cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets swiped Kevin Durant - and Kyrie Irving - from their paws.
While the traded Kristaps Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks, Durant announced on The Boardroom's Instagram account Sunday at 6pm that he's going to Brooklyn to sign a 4-year, $164 million deal.
RELATED: Live coverage of free agency
An unhappy Porzingis was traded in late January by the Knicks in a deal that opened two max slots for Durant and Irving. But the Nets did their own maneuverings and opened up the same amount of cap space to outdo the Knicks again with a chance to take over the city's basketball scene.
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. The Knicks never even got a chance at an official meeting and give their charismatic coach David Fizdale a chance to sell the Knicks.
The Nets are also set to sign Knicks centre DeAndre Jordan, a close friend of Durant's whom the Knicks had obtained, ironically, in the Porzingis deal.
In more bad news, the Knicks had interest in young point guard Terry Rozier, but he's expected to sign a three-year, $58 million deal with the Hornets after a sign-and-trade.
The Knicks have several alternative plans to fill their $72 million in cap space with short-term deals but none of it will bring the Knicks into being a legitimate club next season after missing the playoffs for six straight seasons. They want to maintain some flexibility in case Anthony Davis is unhappy as a Laker and wants out as a 2020 free agent. Sources say he had heavy interest in being in New York but a lot of them never go through with it.
That left the Pelicans' Julius Randle, whom they believe could fill the vacant power-forward slot. Randle agreed to a three-year $63 million deal, per ESPN.
That's no knock on Randle, who averaged 21 points and almost nine rebounds a game in a breakout season with the Pelicans, but it's not exactly the big name Knicks fans were hoping for.
It's been reported Dolan baulked at committing fully to Durant after his Achilles injury, but they may also be an attempt to save face.
The Knicks and owner Jim Dolan were not prepared to offer Kevin Durant a full max contract due to concerns over his recovery from the Achilles injury, league sources tell me and @wojespn. Knicks officials are in Los Angeles tonight, meeting with free agents such as Julius Randle.— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 30, 2019
ESPN's Max Kellerman responded to that news with a scathing take. "Dolan trying to make it seem as though HE was the one making the choice," he tweeted. "No. KD is way too smart to subject himself to Jim Dolan's clown show. Dolan came begging, KD signed with New York's #1 basketball team, and now Dolan trying to save face."
Knicks are furiously working on a sign-and-trade with Warriors for Quinn Cook— Peter Vecsey (@PeterVecsey1) June 30, 2019
The Knicks brass were informed Sunday afternoon they were out of the Durant chase and flew to Los Angeles to meet with second/third-tier free agents. Reportedly they had a meeting with Lakers forward Reggie Bullock.
"Three months ago that was one confident front office," one NBA GM said. "It's crazy what happened."
"They just have to stick to their plan,'' said one NBA source close to the Knicks.
That plan is full of uncertainty now. Knicks GM Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry has said for months a new culture/vibe, had star players wanting to be here. But they have struck out on KD, Irving and Kemba Walker and perhaps could put their job in jeopardy. They still hope to meet with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles but are considered longshots.
The Knicks, coming off a league-worst 17-65 season, have young prospects from the last three drafts and will need a big rookie year from rookie No. 3 pick RJ Barrett and a stout jump from 2018 lottery pick Kevin Knox to be relevant.
Durant will miss next season with his Achilles tear but Irving will join a club that made the playoffs last season. Durant will be 32 when he returns from his injury.
Knicks are taking a public beating, but I've talked to several rival execs tonight who think the Knicks did the right thing. Kyrie wanted to be a Net. No one has any idea how Durant, at 32, will bounce back. Weak free agency class in 2020. Bad optics. Maybe not a bad decision.— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) July 1, 2019
One NBA source said the Knicks weren't 100 per cent sold on Irving as a solo man if he didn't also come with Durant. The Knicks had some concerns about Irving's leadership after the Celtics had internal strife that was blamed on Irving.
Dolan boasted big things would happen back in February. "Look, New York is the mecca of basketball. We hear from people all the time, from players and representatives about who wants to come," Dolan said on ESPN radio. "We can't respond because of the NBA rules, etc. But that doesn't stop them from telling us, and they do. I can tell you, from what we've heard, I think we're gonna have a very successful off-season when it comes to free agents."
So far, that only goes for Brooklyn.