The Kevin Durant free-agency situation is evolving and coming into clarity quickly. On Friday night, word surfaced of the initial list of teams expected to meet with Durant, headlined by the hometown Thunder, Warriors and Spurs.
On Saturday, Sam Amick of USA Today, who has covered Durant extensively over the past five years, reported that Durant's original-hometown Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers will not be getting meetings, while the New York Knicks actually might:
Despite years of speculation about Durant possibly signing with his hometown Washington Wizards or the Los Angeles Lakers, a person with knowledge of his situation told USA TODAY Sports that those two teams are not expected to land a meeting with the former MVP. As it stands, it's the six aforementioned teams coming Durant's way at a location that has not yet been determined.
The New York Knicks have earned their way onto Durant's radar, having traded for Derrick Rose recently to create quite the combination with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis. Yet as of now, it remains to be seen how that particular scenario will be handled. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the situation.
This is a pretty huge report if it turns out to be true. (Of note, these meetings are still evolving and the Lakers and Wizards could still get meetings and the Knicks could fall out quickly.) The Lakers are looking to make major jumps, even with a young core, and not even getting a meeting after so many efforts to sign free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge over the years would be a bad look. It doesn't effect their long-term outlook, with a great young core in D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, but it's certainly notable that the mighty Lakers aren't even expected to get a meeting.
For the Wizards, it's the final crushing blow of a widely disappointing year. The Wizards built their summer around making a pitch for Durant to return to D.C. where he grew up, and instead face-planted, losing their defensive identity, winding up missing the playoffs, and frustrating John Wall on multiple levels. The Wizards signed Durant's old coach Scott Brooks, and while trying to sign Scott Brooks wasn't the reason for that hire, it certainly wasn't thought to hurt the situation. Again, being unable to even get a meeting is hugely disappointing.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have to be thrilled. They parlayed good, but replaceable parts into Derrick Rose, and while Rose comes with a huge amount of injury risk on the last year of a deal, if it helps get them in the room with Kevin Durant, that alone might be worth the gamble. The Knicks have the ability to clear the decks and stack a traditional "super-team" around Rose, Durant, Anthony and potentially another star center. The depth would be terrible, but you figure that out later. Those teams have struggled in the last few years as more chemistry-driven squads like the Spurs and Warriors have thrived but the big market Knicks, plus established stars (even with the limitations of Rose and Melo) have clearly managed to change Durant's perception about the Knicks.
There's a lot of time between now and when Durant will make his decision sometime in July, but the ride is already getting wild.