Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Jay Williams is close to Kevin Durant. He's a partner on Durant's show, The Boardroom, on ESPN. So his insight into Durant's decision to join the Brooklyn Nets carries weight. He offered some thoughts on Durant's decision to join the Nets on Zach Lowe's The Lowe Post Podcast on Monday.
Here are some of the highlights:
His thoughts on why Durant chose the Nets over the Knicks, Warriors and Clippers: "The thing that won this over, I think for Kevin…. it was Kyrie [Irving]. I think it was Kyrie, I think it was the franchise. I think it was (Nets GM) Sean Marks. I think it was the way they handled themselves throughout the process. I think it was the way that Sean has maneuvered different schemes from Day One when they traded Thaddeus Young and they got Caris LeVert."
Williams added that Durant 'loves' Marks and the Nets' practice facility, which is in Brooklyn and offers a view of the Manhattan skyline through windows in the gym.
"He is beyond excited," Williams said in explaining Durant's reaction. "… it feels like home to him."
How the Kristaps Porzingis trade may have influenced Durant's thinking on New York: Williams said that he was under the impression that Durant was still considering all of his options until the day that he made his decision (Sunday evening).
"There were still all the teams on the table and people were asking their opinions on all the teams. So for me, I thought everybody was still on the table. It seemed that way," Williams said. "Look I think Kevin thought about, 'How would 35 look in a New York Knicks uniform? How would 35 look in a Clippers uniform? Was that with Kawhi [Leonard]? What was going to go down? How would it look obviously leaving $57 million on the table to (leave) Golden State? Would the Golden State Warriors ever really be his team? How was that going to be with [Stephen Curry]?'
"I think all of that stuff was stuff that he literally thought about. And I know (Durant's business manager) Rich [Kleiman], for sure, built a whole deck, a whole book, it seemed like with 60 pages, to go through all the different things, all the pros and cons of all the scenarios."
The Knicks believed they had a shot at Durant in the days leading up to free agency but an ESPN report shortly after Durant announced his decision stated that Knicks owner James Dolan wasn't prepared to offer Durant a max contract due to concerns over his Achilles injury.
The Knicks, per sources, had been prepared to offer Durant a max contract leading up to free agency. It's hard to see a scenario where the Knicks would not have offered Durant a max contract if that's what he asked for in order to sign with the franchise.
Williams believes that the timing of the report was "Bush League" and "disappointing."
"If you're Kevin Durant you're sitting back there saying, 'Oh if I didn't want to go to New York, you guys weren't going to take me. Players see stuff like that and players talk all the time," Williams said.
Interestingly, when discussing the Knicks missing out on their top targets, Williams suggested that trading Kristaps Porzingis may have made New York less attractive to Durant.
"Can I tell you a caveat on top of that?" Williams said while discussing the Knicks with Lowe. "Who gave Porzingis the nickname Unicorn? Do you not think that was one of the attractive pieces that he saw and was like, 'Wow, together, (what) this could be like together, potentially?'"
Durant, of course, nicknamed Porzingis 'Unicorn,' but was also clearly interested in teaming up with Irving.
The Knicks traded the contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee in the Porzingis trade to Dallas as well. The move created enough cap space for two max slots. It's logical to think that, at that point, they had high confidence that Durant and another star were coming to New York. But Williams' thoughts suggest that trading Porzingis may have made the Knicks less attractive. An interesting wrinkle to a layered story involving the city's two NBA teams.
Williams attempted to clarify his remarks to Marc Berman of The Post.
"It was something Stephen A. said earlier, and I referenced it,'' Williams said. "I don't think it had anything to do with Porzingis. It was not the difference-maker with the Knicks and Kevin."