Unless you pride yourself on hating the Los Angeles Lakers or have ever been the victim of one of his Jedi flops, Derek Fisher—the freshly minted coach of the New York Knicks—seems to enjoy near-universal love and respect.
A couple particularly important people included:
My good friend and fellow Arkansan @derekfisher & I now have one more thing in common: New York. Congratulations, D-Fish.— Bill Clinton (@billclinton) June 10, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton, like Fisher, hails from Arkansas. And you can bet the two will be trading back-slaps at some Manhattan steakhouse in the not-too-distant future.
This congrats, however, is the one that's bound to pique the interest of NBA fans:
So happy for my brother @derekfisher, I can speak for the whole state of Oklahoma when I say we will miss u and we love u. Good luck coach— Kevin Durant (@KDTrey5) June 10, 2014
Here’s KD from a May 21 interview with the New York Post’s Marc Berman:
“Without a doubt. He’s a smart guy, smart mind,” Durant said of Fisher’s coaching readiness. “He’s a great motivator, great speaker and can really relate to a lot of guys and demands that respect from everybody. He’s a great locker-room guy. I’m sure he’ll do a great job.’’
Let the fanciful speculation begin!
We’re talking, of course, about 2016, when Durant is slated to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Barring another Knicks coaching debacle, Fisher—who agreed to a five-year, $25 million deal—will likely still be patrolling the Madison Square Garden sidelines when KD officially hits the open market.
Could the two’s noted rapport be enough, or at least an impetus, to lure Durant to Manhattan?
One thing’s for certain: New York’s cross-bridge rivals, the Brooklyn Nets, will be in hot pursuit of the NBA MVP when the time comes, according to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy (h/t Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin):
The impending Durant free agency bonanza should start picking up steam next season and will undoubtedly engulf the NBA in the summer of 2016. And make no mistake: the Nets are targeting Durant, the 25-year-old offensive juggernaut, even if it’s too early to predict their odds.
The Nets could be committed to no salary when Durant becomes a free agent, depending on whether Deron Williams picks up his one-year option for the 2016-17 season. Everybody else is off the books.
You can bet your bottom dollar—or, in KD’s case, your $100-or-so million—that the Knicks will be right there with the Nets come the summer of 2016, as cleared as they’ll likely be of their current cap-clogging contracts.
That’s not to say Fisher’s presence alone will be enough to woo Durant. Indeed, we’re pretty sure he’ll want to see, you know, consistent winning from whatever team he decides to join.
Then again, what if Durant and the Thunder have a championship or two under their belts at that point? Would he really leave with a three-peat so close and his status as the face of the OKC brand so secure?
A lot can happen in two short years, of course, which is why it’s probably not worth reading into KD’s tweet as anything more than a simple, cordial congratulations.