Now that he’s met him and seen him shoot up close, new Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek is even more psyched about Kristaps Porzingis.
The biggest free-agent domino has fallen and perhaps taken down the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise with it. Kevin Durant announced Monday morning on the Players' Tribune that he will join the Golden State Warriors, which may fundamentally alter the NBA's power structure:
The primary mandate I had for myself in making this decision was to have it based on the potential for my growth as a player — as that has always steered me in the right direction. But I am also at a point in my life where it is of equal importance to find an opportunity that encourages my evolution as a man: moving out of my comfort zone to a new city and community which offers the greatest potential for my contribution and personal growth. With this in mind, I have decided that I am going to join the Golden State Warriors.
I'm from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, "Durant will sign a two-year deal with the Warriors at $54.3 million, league sources say, with a player option for Year 2." The Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson, citing a source, reported that Durant "knew as early as [Sunday] night. The wait was about getting the announcement in order."
Durant, 27, spent his first nine seasons with the Thunder franchise. He accumulated seven All-Star appearances and six All-NBA selections, along with an MVP award on his mantel in 2013-14. The Thunder did not exist before Durant's arrival—he was drafted the season before their move from Seattle—and he's come to embody the franchise.
That he would leave the Thunder seemed like an impossible outcome less than two months ago. Oklahoma City, riding high off eliminating the 67-win San Antonio Spurs, took a 3-1 lead over the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
We all know what happened next. A pair of Golden State home wins and a dispiriting collapse in Game 6 from the Thunder sent them home early, and the Warriors nearly rode that wave to back-to-back championships before blowing their own 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
In Game 6, Durant and Russell Westbrook looked headed to a sure-fire future in which they'd spend their entire primes together.
Now Durant has skipped town and joined the competition.
The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reported additional insight into Durant's decision:
Source: Bleacher Report
The biggest name in NBA free agency this summer is expected to be former MVP Kevin Durant, and the time for him to make a decision on where he'll play next season is inching closer now that the postseason has concluded.
Continue for updates.
Hawks Reportedly Hold Hopes of Landing Durant
Tuesday, June 28
Stein, citing sources, reported that the Hawks "have been working to try to persuade Durant and his representatives to have a face-to-face recruiting meeting after free agency starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, even though their chances appear dim." Stein said a "source of hope" for the Hawks is the presence of Grant Hill in the team's ownership group, noting Hill would be "expected to lead Atlanta's lobbying efforts."
Durant Reportedly to Sign One-Year Deal
Monday, June 27
When appearing on Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported on the most likely scenario for Durant in free agency (via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation): “I’m told even if he left, he would do a one-year deal. Economically, it makes sense for him to do a one-year deal and then do the longer deal after it. It’ll be worth more money because the cap goes up next year.”
Wojnarowski added the Thunder remain "a strong front-runner" to retain Durant.
Latest on Teams Scheduled to Meet with Durant
Monday, June 27
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times, citing a source, reported the meeting with the Clippers is expected to take place in New York with head coach Doc Rivers and owner Steve Ballmer among executives expected to be present.
ESPN.com noted that "Durant is also considering meeting with the New York Knicks." However, ESPN.com's Ian Begley, citing sources, reported Sunday that "no meeting has been scheduled—or agreed to—between the Knicks and Durant."
Wojnarowski reported the meetings will take place in a singular, unnamed location in New York beginning July 1 and that Durant's decision is expected prior to July 9.
Knicks to Pursue Durant
Monday, June 27
When asked Monday if he would meet with the Knicks, Durant replied, viaBrian Lewis of the New York Post, "I don’t know. We’ll see in the next (few days)...I've got to talk to my people."
Earlier on Monday, Stein noted Carmelo Anthony told ESPN the following about recruiting Durant: "We've been together. We've been talking."
Stein later shared more comments from Anthony on Durant:
You know, for me, it's more just about just laying it all out for him, giving him the real.
Being in that situation before and knowing how much he has to think about and what he has go through, him not wanting to leave Oklahoma (after) all the time that he spent there, I felt the same way when I was in Denver, spending 7 1/2 years there and then to have to make a decision. But you leave it up to him. He's going to make the best decision for him. I think that's the most important thing.
Durant spoke to reporters on Monday regarding the Knicks, saying: "Obviously they have a good team now with D-Rose and Melo and [Kristaps] Porzingis so I will talk to my team and we will figure things out."
Begley reported May 31, citing league sources, that Porzingis and his friendship with Anthony "are two factors that will likely play a role in how Durant views the Knicks."
Begley also noted Durant "has told friends that he's a big fan" of Porzingis and called him a "unicorn" last season.
However, Durant "made it known at the time that he was unhappy" with the team's decision to fire Derek Fisher midseason.
"Privately, some folks with the Knicks believed they had a decent shot to land Durant when Fisher was on the sideline," Begley said. He added that Fisher's firing could be a "big potential strike against New York."