Report: Kemba Walker Wanted to Join Kevin Durant, Sign with Knicks During 2019 FA

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 22, 2021

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 22:  Kemba Walker #8 of the Boston Celtics is defended by Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets in Game One of the First Round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center at Barclays Center on May 22, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

If Kemba Walker had had his way, the star point guard might have joined the New York Knicks well before this offseason.

The New York Post's Marc Berman reported Walker considered signing with the Knicks during the 2019 offseason and was hopeful Kevin Durant would join him. When it became clear Durant was moving to the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kyrie Irving, Walker and the Knicks chose to go in separate directions.

Last August, the 31-year-old Bronx native acknowledged he had given serious thought to signing with New York. He also said he thought at the time that the franchise might make another big signing, and he laughed off a question about whether Durant was the player he referenced.

The Ringer @ringer

Was there ever a chance <a href="https://twitter.com/KembaWalker?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KembaWalker</a> would play for the Knicks?<br><br>Yes! He explains what happened to <a href="https://twitter.com/CC_Sabathia?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CC_Sabathia</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/RyanRuocco?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RyanRuocco</a> on the <a href="https://twitter.com/R2C2?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@R2C2</a> podcast. <a href="https://t.co/U82fUFFul4">pic.twitter.com/U82fUFFul4</a>

As much as Walker was prepared to call Madison Square Garden home, it doesn't appear a partnership with Durant was ever a realistic possibility.

Durant went on JJ Redick's podcast last September and told the 15-year veteran he "never planned on going to the Knicks."

"I didn’t want to be the savior of the Knicks or New York," he said (via SNY's Alex Smith). "I didn’t care about being the king of New York. That never really moved me. I didn’t care about being on Broadway. I just wanted to play ball and go to the crib and chill. And that’s what Brooklyn embodied."

Walker may not have been the All-Star guard who could lure Durant to the Knicks, either.

Reporting for Bleacher Report in July 2019, Howard Beck outlined how Durant and Irving sketched out their plan to team up well before they officially agreed to their contract with the Nets.

There wasn't a scenario in which the Durant-Irving tandem could add Walker as well unless they were collectively prepared to receive much less than their market value.

Walker eventually matriculated to the Big Apple, signing with the Knicks after the Oklahoma City Thunder bought him out of his contract in early August.

In part, the four-time All-Star is tasked with turning around the perception surrounding the organization. Making the 2021 playoffs represented progress, but it doesn't totally erase the dysfunction that has long plagued New York.

The onus is on Walker, his teammates and coaching staff to show last year's success wasn't a false dawn.