Stephen A. Smith reported Wednesday on First Take that Dolan wants see a detailed medical report on Durant before tabling a formal offer (h/t the New York Times' Adam Zagoria):
Adam Zagoria @AdamZagoria
"The New York Knicks, meaning specifically Mr. Dolan, expressed a bit of caution, or dare I say reluctance, to offer Kevin Durant the max....He wants to see the medical report, he wants to see the NY Knicks go through that with a fine-tooth comb." @stephenasmith on KD https://t.co/CUCtRwnR0Z
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Durant declined his $31.5 million player option for the 2019-20 campaign on Wednesday, allowing him to hit free agency.
Dolan's hesitance is understandable to some extent. Durant is likely to miss all of next season, and he could be a different player when he returns because the effects of his injury will linger.
Having said that, Durant is so talented he should be able to make any necessary adjustments to his game and remain a dynamic scorer. He has made over 50 percent of his shots for seven seasons in a row.
This isn't a situation in which playing hardball is in the Knicks' interests either.
Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes speculated last October on Undisputed that Durant would consider a move to New York in order to potentially bolster his legacy by leading the Knicks to a title. Ian Begley reported for ESPN.com in April the general consensus was that Durant was eventually going to sign with the Knicks.
For the first time in a long time, the franchise is in a great position to land one of the top free agents. If Smith's report is accurate, though, its chances of doing so may take a hit.
In addition, pursuing Durant and other marquee stars was the entire point of trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. New York freed up enough salary cap space to offer two max contracts, and being unable to maximize that flexibility would represent a failure for the front office.
Some team is likely going to give Durant the max this summer.
In a vacuum, the Knicks could defend their decision to walk away if they're seriously concerned about Durant's Achilles injury. Given how everything has unfolded for the team in recent years, that move probably wouldn't be received well by the fanbase, though.