ESPN's Stephen A. Smith tweeted there's a "95 percent chance" the All-Stars leave their current teams for the Big Apple in July, echoing quotes he made Friday on the Michael Kay Show.
"I'm told it's a 90 to 95 percent possibility, assurity rather, that Kevin Durant is going to New York—that's what I'm told," Smith said. "That he and Kyrie Irving are coming to New York. You're hearing people saying that folks in Kyrie Irving's camp are trying to convince him to go the route of the Brooklyn Nets. For all intents and purposes, he has every intent of coming to the Garden next year, and Kevin Durant has every intent in playing at Madison Square Garden next year.
"Folks have stopped short of saying it's a sure thing, but they have used the exact words '95 percent probability' that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are coming to Madison Square Garden next season."
The idea Irving and Durant could team up with the Knicks is nothing new. It's been the buzz of the NBA for most of the 2018-19 season, particularly after the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to Dallas to open up a second max-level slot.
The Knicks are also one of three teams (Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns) with a 14.0 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, which they would presumably use on Zion Williamson. It's also possible the Knicks wind up trading their pick for a third star, with Anthony Davis being a prime target.
Durant and Irving have both bristled at the attention given to their impending free agency. Durant was particularly frustrated when the rumors reached their midseason apex after the Porzingis trade.
"I got nothing to do with the Knicks. I don't know who traded Porzingis. It's got nothing to do with me, I'm trying to play basketball," Durant told reporters in February. "Ya'll come in here every day, ask me about free agency—ask my teammates, my coaches, you rile up the fans about it. Let us play basketball, that's all I'm saying.
"And now that I don't want to talk to ya'll it's a problem with me. Come on man, grow up. Grow up."
Despite the public frustration, there has to be something to all this smoke. It feels akin to last season when there were rampant rumors that LeBron James wanted to play basketball in Los Angeles. It was easy to be skeptical then because the Lakers were coming off five straight losing seasons, but the worst-kept secret in basketball ultimately proved true.
We'll find out in a few months whether that will be the case again.