Now that the dust has settled from the Knicks and Kristaps Porzingis breakup, New York is shining a spotlight on its remaining assets to pursue one of the highest-earning basketball players in the world.
The Knicks seem to have their sights set on acquiring pending free agent Kevin Durant. Although the glamour for a nine-time All-Star to play for a New York team that enters Tuesday on a 13-game losing streak is nowhere to be found, the Knicks possess a key chip in DeAndre Jordan.
The two-time NBA rebound leader joined the Knicks in the package deal that sent Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. New York could flip Jordan to pursue another max contract player like Anthony Davis, ending up as the buyout candidate. But the Knicks may have other ideas for Jordan.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that the Knicks plan to keep Jordan to lure Durant into New York.
"One thing I'll say about the Knicks: they're making it look like they intend to keep DeAndre Jordan," Windhorst said via ESPN. "You can extrapolate this out: [He] has a relationship with Kevin Durant. Although I don't know how [the Knicks can retain the big man]. I mean, they can't keep him at any real number."
The Knicks can retain Jordan by bringing him back on a $27.47 million deal next season, per Hoops Hype's Bryan Kalbrosky. That would drop their projected cap space from $74.6 million to $47.1 million. This would limit New York's chances of signing two max salaries this offseason. The Knicks would only have the ability to sign just one or the other.
In other words, if Durant and Jordan become long-term Knickerbockers, Kyrie Irving -- or any other max player -- signing with New York becomes an illusion.
Jordan and Durant are well-known good friends, so it's possible the former Clippers and Mavs center would be willing to take a significant discount to play alongside Durant. If that's the case, the Knicks would still have the necessary cap space to sign another max contract this offseason.
Meanwhile, Durant has been "nowhere to be found" in the Warriors' locker room after Golden State's last two games -- something Mercury News writer Dieter Kurtenbach finds odd.
"Durant is almost always around postgame -- he's usually one of the last guys to leave the locker room after a game," Kurtenbach wrote Monday morning. "But over the last two contests, he's been nowhere to be found. And you can't convince me that has nothing to do with the Knicks."
Are the Knicks capitalizing on the uncertainty of Durant's future by dropping hints that Jordan's sojourn is actually a long-term stay? Only time will tell.