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Keidel: Winning With Knicks Would Shut Up All Of Kevin Durant's Critics

Superstar Forward Set To Hit Free Agency This Summer

Jason Keidel
February 13, 2019 - 1:11 pm
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It's common for Kevin Durant to catch fire on a basketball court. But recently he lost his cool after a game, as well.  

A beat reporter crawled under Durant's skin by asking him about all the moves and rumors around the NBA that could have been motivated by a desire to steal Durant's talent from the Warriors. The 10-time All-Star forward questioned the media's motives, honesty and accuracy. Durant also asserted he had no part in trading Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks to the Mavericks, which means the whispers of Durant leading a fast-break to the Big Apple are piercing his low-key regularity. 

This is all part of a larger narrative. There have also been reports that Durant is sick of playing second fiddle to LeBron James and figured that beating him in consecutive NBA Finals would have granted Durant the crown as the NBA's preeminent player. If that was his goal, then he made a gross miscalculation. Joining a 73-win club in Golden State to become the last cog in an indestructible hardwood machine was the quick way to get rings, not respect. 

But if Durant, 30, wants to make an eternal mark on the league and his legacy, he may just consider switching coasts and joining the hapless Knicks. It's a gamble of epic contours, surrendering his lavish life in sunny California for the frostbitten streets of NYC, swapping the yearly romp to June for a squad that never sees May and has bagged zero rings since 1973 and moving from a 41-15 mansion to a 10-46 homeless shelter. 

MORE: Knicks Remove Kevin Durant Photo From Season-Ticket Advertising

If he opts out of his contract, which he is expected to do, Durant will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Perhaps there's never been a more dissected free agent move than Durant's migration from Oklahoma to California. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, NBA insider nonpareil, called it the weakest move he's ever seen from a big-time pro athlete. Like most seismic celebrity shifts, you either are all in or out on Durant. 

But if Durant comes to NYC and boots these foul ghosts from Madison Square Garden, and somehow wins that last game that eluded Patrick Ewing, then Durant would rewrite his eulogy and his legacy. 

We all know it's not as simple as Durant dribbling on the court, shooting his trademark jumper from his endless arms and then the halcyon years of Clyde Frazier and Red Holzman suddenly return. These are the Knicks, with a sprawling streak of ineptitude. Fans are all excited over the idea of the Knicks grabbing Duke's Zion Williamson with the first pick, ignoring the fact that the league's worst record gives you a 48 percent chance at the fifth pick in the draft. They are also ignoring the fact that this tanking thing is somehow different from any other season we've seen over the last, lost two decades. 

The Knicks could bag a blue-chip draft pick, sign a top-tier free agent and still have the salary to splash Durant with copious cash. So by any objective measure, this will be the first time the Knicks have the bandwidth to make power moves and become a real destination for the sport's aristocracy. 

Still, we must consider that Durant may have the tools and talent for this, but he may not have the bleached nerves needed to live in the Big Apple's media fishbowl. Durant is quite sensitive to criticism, with rabbit ears shooting deep into social media space. He even created a fake (burner) Twitter account to jab back at his detractors. So if Durant found sound and fury in Oakland, he has to harden his hide for Gotham. 

Durant will likely win his third NBA title this year. And he will still find frustration in the NBA's pecking order, forever a prince behind King James. Perhaps the only way Kevin Durant can rewrite his legacy is to build one in New York City. 

Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel