Report: Knicks Believe If Anybody Can Return from Achilles, It's Kevin Durant

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2019

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant reacts in the game against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, March 23, 2019 in Oakland, Calif. The Mavericks won 126-91. (AP Photo/John Hefti)
John Hefti/Associated Press

The New York Knicks will reportedly continue their pursuit of Golden State Warriors superstar Kevin Durant in free agency this summer despite the ruptured Achilles he suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals.

On Monday, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported the Knicks believe "if anyone in the league can come back from an Achilles tear, it is Durant," but one source he spoke with wasn't as confident.

"I wouldn't do it," an NBA talent evaluator said when asked about giving KD a max contract. "It may look good now, appear they had it right [he was coming] until the injury. But it's hard to justify all that for maybe one good year. By the fourth year, I can see people wondering when will he come off the cap."

New York was originally viewed as the heavy favorite to land both Durant and Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving on the open market, but the outlook has changed of late.

Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith

Yes. From everything I’ve heard, KD and Kyrie are planning on coming to New York. 95% Chance they say! Only potential hiccup is KD changing his mind https://t.co/9ezL7IEc3y

The Warriors forward came back from a calf injury to appear in Game 5 of the Finals, but he played just 12 minutes before suffering the Achilles setback. It's possible he won't be available at all during the 2019-20 season.

Meanwhile, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported June 18 the Brooklyn Nets "strongly believe they are the frontrunners" to land Irving as a free agent.

The uncertainty around both players has formed a dark cloud over what was setting up to become a blockbuster offseason for the Knicks.

New York is also a candidate to sign the Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard, but the Knicks are considered "long shots" in that pursuit, per Berman.

The team did secure Duke shooting guard RJ Barrett with the third overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, so it does have a new building block for the future. But the roster still needs a massive overhaul, and it's starting to seem like a quick infusion of high-end talent won't happen this summer.

Landing Durant and letting him sit out the entire season en route to another lottery pick might be the new best-case scenario. Durant, Barrett and another top prospect as the core could push the Knicks toward contention in 2020-21 assuming the two-time NBA Finals MVP returns to full strength.