Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
There have been some strong suggestions on television and radio recently that the Brooklyn Nets are the front runners for Kevin Durant.
But that notion is not accurate. Sources familiar with the matter told SNY that the Nets are not the front runners or favorites to sign Durant at the moment.
Durant, according to The Athletic, has not yet decided if he'll meet with teams when free agency starts on Sunday night. But if he does, those meetings will take place in New York, according to the website.
The Knicks still believe they have a chance to land Durant. ESPN reported recently that the Nets and Clippers are believed to be in consideration for Durant as well, as is a return to Golden State.
Only Durant and those closest to him know if he favors one team over others at this point. But again, per sources, the idea that the Nets are currently the front runners for Durant is not accurate.
Golden State can offer Durant a five year deal worth roughly $220 million. Other suitors, including the Knicks, Nets and Clippers, can offer Durant a four-year deal worth $164 million.
Durant suffered a torn Achilles during the Finals and is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season, per ESPN.
There is no reason to believe that any of the teams chasing Durant would not offer him a max contract. However, last week, SNY and other outlets reported that the Knicks would like to get more information on Durant's injury during their pursuit of him.
Durant is one of the top free agents in a market that's packed with stars this summer, which includes Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. The decision of one the stars at the top of the list will likely have an impact on the other free agents.
Teams in pursuit of Irving have seen the Nets as the odds-on favorite to land the point guard. If Irving signs with Brooklyn, it's highly unlikely that D'Angelo Russell returns to the club, as previously reported. Irving and Durant have been linked together for several weeks as a pairing for Brooklyn. If Durant doesn't end up in Brooklyn with Irving, there is reportedly mutual interest between free agent Tobias Harris and the Nets.
The Lakers created an interesting wrinkle in the market on Thursday when, per ESPN, they completed a trade with Washington that created a max salary slot for them.
The New York Times reported late Thursday that Irving is "as much a target for the Lakers" as Leonard is. Yahoo Sports reported that Leonard will meet with the Lakers and Clippers early in free agency and ESPN reported that the Raptors will meet with Leonard as the NBA Finals MVP's last meeting. It is unclear if the Knicks will get a meeting with Leonard.
New York has contingency plans if it misses out on its top targets in free agency, which include Durant and Leonard and pairing Irving with Durant.
The Knicks will have strong interest in young bigs Julius Randle and Bobby Portis and guard Terry Rozier if they miss on their top targets, per SNY sources.
Portis is a restricted free agent, so the Knicks would need to offer him a contract for at least two seasons. New York isn't interested in offering long-term contracts to free agents this summer if they miss on their top targets. But that could leave them behind other suitors for Randle and Portis.
It's reasonable to assume that both young bigs could command offers longer than two seasons. But the Knicks, if they have $70 million in cap space to spend (or $30 million if they sign one max free agent like Durant), could offer significant annual value on a short-term deal to the players.
League sources confirmed to SNY that the Knicks are also considering making a significant short-term offer to DeMarcus Cousins. But some in the organization have said that going after younger players like Randle and Portis is a priority that's ahead of pursuing Cousins, who will be 29 at the beginning of next season.
Regarding Rozier, Kemba Walker signing with Boston could open up an avenue for the Knicks with the young guard.
SNY reported on Wednesday that the Knicks were keeping an eye on Rozier in case he becomes available as an unrestricted free agent. If Boston signs Walker -- and the club is the leader for Walker at the moment, per ESPN -- the Celtics will likely have to renounce their rights to Rozier, making him unrestricted.
If this comes to fruition, the Knicks will have significant interest in Rozier if they miss out on Durant, Leonard and Irving, per SNY sources.
Some in the organization say that they would prefer to offer Rozier a short-term deal, as they would with other free agents if they miss out on their top targets, per SNY sources.
Again, this all hinges in large part on Durant and Leonard for the Knicks. To reiterate: only Durant and those closest to him know if he's leaning one way or the other towards a potential suitor. But it's inaccurate to say that the Nets are currently the favorites to land the two-time NBA Finals MVP.