Per The Athletic's Frank Isola, Knicks management was "stunned and depressed" at losing out on the two superstars in free agency.
Knicks fans and management seemed to be expecting a home run in free agency this summer. Team owner James Dolan told ESPN Radio's The Michael Kay Show (h/t Peter Botte of the New York Post) in March that based on what he'd been told, New York was "gonna have a very successful offseason when it comes to free agents."
Irving and Durant in particular had been linked to the Knicks as the 2018-19 season was in progress. Isola reported in April some NBA executives were so convinced both players would join the Knicks that it was just a matter of which one signed first.
When the duo opted to play for the Nets, Knicks president Steve Mills released a statement to reassure fans they remained confident in their plan.
"While we understand that some Knicks fans could be disappointed with tonight's news, we continue to be upbeat and confident in our plans to rebuild the Knicks to compete for championships in the future, through both the draft and targeted free agents," he said.
The Knicks wound up signing a number of secondary free agents, including Julius Randle and Bobby Portis, to short-term deals that will give them financial flexibility for the 2021 free-agent class, which could be headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Selling hope for the future to a fanbase that has watched its team post six consecutive losing seasons is difficult, but the Knicks don't have any choice but to move forward with their next plan after being left in the lurch by Irving and Durant this summer.