Leading into free agency this summer, there was some serious speculation that Kevin Durant would sign with the New York Knicks in an attempt to lead the franchise back to glory. Ultimately, Durant did indeed ink with a New York-based team, but it wasn't the Knicks. Instead, Durant opted to sign with the Nets. On Tuesday, Brooklyn's new superstar admitted that he did consider the Knicks, but not very heavily.
"I thought about it, yeah, just a thought," Durant said in an interview on Ebro in the Morning Show on Hot 97 FM. "But I didn't really do any deep, full analysis on the Knicks."
When asked why he thought that the Knicks have had trouble landing top-tier free agents despite their lofty legacy, Durant pointed at their recent lack of success as a major factor.
"They're trying. They're trying," Durant said. "It's hard to get the best players to play here. It's hard ... I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players who, in their lifetime, don't remember the Knicks being good. I didn't grow up with the Knicks. I've seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn't see that. So that whole brand of the Knicks to them is not as cool as, let's say, the Golden State Warriors or even the Lakers or the Nets now.
"It's like the cool thing right now is not the Knicks," Durant added.
Ouch. After whiffing on Durant in free agency, those comments have to feel like salt in the wound for Knicks fans. But, in Durant's eyes, it's all about building a solid on-court culture; something he feels that the Nets have done, but the Knicks have not.
"The organization, basketball is the most important thing for me, so playing with Kyrie [Irving], DeAndre Jordan, the young players they got, was key," Durant said of his decision to sign with the Nets. "Playing with Golden State, playing with an older group, I thought it was time for me to kind of impose my will on a younger group. ... I just wanted to be around a nice group of young players and also a good mix of vets."
Landing Durant obviously would have provided a big boost to a long dormant Knicks franchise, but perhaps they can still learn something from him spurning them, and his subsequent comments: if you built an organization the right way, by employing a competent front office and coaching staff, grooming young talent and making smart moves, good players will be interested in the organization. This concept has eluded the Knicks for the past couple of decades, but perhaps they can get back on the right track moving forward.