NBA Rumors: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant Could Be Package Deal for Knicks or Nets

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2019

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 5:  Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics speaks with Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors after 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 Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Noah Graham/Getty Images

While it's possible that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving play together in 2019, the New York Knicks are reportedly not the only option.

Marc Stein of the New York Times said Tuesday that the Brooklyn Nets are also in play for the All-Star duo.

"[Durant and Irving] might be a package deal, but they're going to look at the Nets just as hard as the Knicks," Stein said on the Stephen A Smith Show.

The Nets currently do not have enough cap space to sign both Durant and Irving to max-level contracts. They could get a second max slot if they are able to unload Allen Crabbe's $18.5 million salary.

The rumor mill with Durant and Irving is nothing new and has been speculated about for months. They're close friends, impending free agents and are currently in situations where it appears a change of scenery could be in order.

Despite winning two straight Finals MVPs, Durant has taken unceasing criticism about his decision to sign with the Warriors. Irving, despite professing his intention to re-sign in Boston last October, went through a tumultuous Celtics season where his leadership was constantly questioned. It's fair to wonder if both players might be happier attempting to save basketball in New York.

From a "legacy" perspective, it's hard to compare the Knicks and Nets. Saving Knicks basketball would make both guys New York legends. Turning the Nets into title contenders would make them...well liked in New York City. The Nets, having spent most of their existence in New Jersey, do not have the same hold on the heartstrings of the New York market.

From an organizational competency perspective, it's hard to compare the Knicks and Nets—in the opposite direction. The Knicks have been perpetual losers since the turn of the century, thanks in large part to poor decision making from their ownership group. They just traded their best homegrown player since Patrick Ewing over a falling out.

The Nets, meanwhile, just rebuilt themselves from one of the worst trades in NBA history via front-office savvy and great coaching. There may not be a better-run organization in basketball at the moment. Sean Marks has been sensational since taking over as general manager, Kenny Atkinson drew praise for his coaching acumen this season, and Joseph Tsai will likely take over a controlling interest of the franchise soon.

It's just May, and there are thousands of rumors and scenarios that are going to play out. There's enough smoke here that we can reasonably assume Irving and Durant have thought about playing together. Whether that comes to fruition depends on a number of factors, including how the notoriously moody players are feeling July 1. 

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