Report: Knicks Willing to Give Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving 'Whatever' to Sign

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 5: Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors looks on during the game on March 5, 2019 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. 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 Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The New York Knicks are prepared to go to any length necessary to land two of this offseason's biggest free agents. 

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported Monday on First Take that Knicks owner James Dolan will effectively give Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving a blank check in order to sign with the team:

"But from everything that I've been hearing over the last few days, Kyrie Irving is heading to New York City. Kyrie Irving is headed to Madison Square Garden with Kevin Durant. People in his inner circle are trying to bring the Nets into the mix, but clearly, New York is the destination. The likelihood is that it will be MSG and obviously, Max [Kellerman], and I will admit, I'm saying this for your entertainment, Max Kellerman, because I know it's going to get you going after I say this. I am told that James Dolan himself has basically said: 'Whatever the hell you want. I will move the hell out of the way. I will give you whatever you want. It doesn't matter. I'll take care of you,' to the Kyries and the Kevin Durants of the world."

Smith added the perception is that Durant and Irving are "destined" for a move to the Big Apple.

The Knicks head into the summer in a somewhat unfamiliar position. They're widely expected to successfully court two marquee free agents.

The rumors connecting Irving to New York date back to his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. ESPN's Pablo Torre reported in July 2017 the now-six-time All-Star "very badly wants to be a New York Knick."

Speculation linking Durant to the Knicks has steadily grown throughout the 2018-19 season. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Durant would potentially relish the challenge of turning around one of the NBA's prestige franchises.

UNDISPUTED @undisputed

"New York Knicks have a very good shot at luring KD away from the Bay Area. ... The same allure that LeBron had towards the Los Angeles Lakers, just the building, the culture, is the same way I know that KD feels about the Knicks." — @ChrisBHaynes https://t.co/04xDGmLA2k

The certainty with which Smith asserted Durant is likely to head eastward echoes a report from ESPN's Ian Begley in April: "It's easier to find street parking in Manhattan than it is to find an NBA executive, player or coach who doesn't think Durant is going to sign with the Knicks in July."

Even if the team is in pole position to add both players, New York can leave no stone unturned if Durant and Irving are atop its wishlist.

The Knicks might play in one of the country's biggest media markets, but that hasn't counted for much in recent years. They famously struck out in the LeBron James sweepstakes in 2010, and Durant didn't bother to meet with them prior to signing with the Golden State Warriors in 2016.

Whether providing assurances about the team's long-term direction or promising a high level of autonomy within the franchise, Dolan needs to go the extra mile to entice Durant and Irving.

As much as they might like the idea of calling Madison Square Garden home, that allure doesn't outweigh the need for the Knicks to present some sort of clear path to title contention.


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