Between fines and suspensions over the last week, the stories about Kevin Durant’s future with Golden State have fallen to the background. The Warriors are two games in front of the Nuggets for the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, so the majority of the discussion will focus on Golden State’s chances to win a 3rd straight NBA title (and 4th in five seasons).
However, NBA insider Ric Bucher did find some time Wednesday to talk with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd about Durant, an unrestricted free agent this summer, and his potential destination for next season.
While previous rumors have circled around a battle between the Lakers and Clippers, Bucher suggested the New York Knicks.
“From everything I heard, it’s done,” Bucher said about Durant leaving the Bay Area. “Yes, he’s leaving.”
Cowherd introduced the topic by talking about his own transition from ESPN to Fox. Bucher offered Durant’s situation as an analogy.
“Did you feel embraced there,” Bucher asked of Cowherd’s time at ESPN. “Do you feel valued?
“It’s not a matter of liking or appreciating what (Durant) has (in Golden State), ” Bucher continued, “but being there, I can tell you that Kevin Durant has never been fully embraced by the Warriors faithful.”
Bucher then speculated that New York would be a place that would fully appreciate what the All-Star brings to the table.
“Where can he go where he’s going to be wildly appreciated,” Bucher said. “I can tell you one place. The New York Knicks. The New York Knicks fans. Madison Square Garden. If he so much as gets them into the conference finals after all they have not done over the last multiple decades, he will be beloved there like he never has been in Golden State after winning two championships.”
ESPN’s Jalen Rose said the lack of appreciation is an national media issue, saying that Durant is dealing with a similar issue to the one that led him to flee Oklahoma City.
“I believe he’s going to leave,” Rose said. “And as I watched the team a little bit further over this last month, I started to take it a step further and consider myself saying, ‘These are the reasons he should leave.’ How about being the kind of guy that puts up the numbers that he puts up and you’re never going to be considered for the MVP? How about a guy that left the Oklahoma City Thunder to come to the Golden State Warriors, won Finals MVP back-to-back years, and that does not make him happy? How about when we talking about who the best players in the game is? He don’t even get mentioned.
Durant is averaging 26.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. He also carries a 2-year, $61 million contract with Golden State at the moment. New York is projected to have $72 million of cap space next year per Spotrac.
The Lakers and Clippers would have to do some financial fenagling in order to make the move, as well as sign complementary role players. Here’s a hypothetical roster management scenario:
Lakers Potential Waivers/Cuts:
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($12 million)
- Rajon Rondo ($9 million)
- Lance Stephenson ($4.49 million)
- Reggie Bullock ($2.5 million)
- JaVale McGee ($1.5 million)
- Tyson Chandler ($1.3 million)
Total cap space created (per Spotrac): $30.79 million
Clippers Potential Waivers/Cuts:
- Wilson Chandler ($12.8 million)
- Garrett Temple ($8 million)
- JaMychal Green ($7.8 million)
- Patrick Beverley ($5 million)
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute ($4.3 million)
Total cap space created (per Spotrac): $37.9 million
At the moment, the Knicks have the media platform in New York and the glut of cap space to make a Durant offseason signing a reality. Would he actually leave for one of the worst franchises in recent NBA history, though?