New York Knicks fans don’t need the reminder of what happened in free agency three summers ago, but looking back, things worked out pretty well for the organization. The Knicks got flamed after Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving decided to team up together across the river in Brooklyn, but if New York would’ve signed that duo, the team wouldn’t be where they are now.
After the Nets had made it back to the playoffs for the first time in four years, Brooklyn made what was then viewed as a legendary move by inking KD and Kyrie. Several months later, the Nets fired head coach Kenny Atkinson shortly before the NBA was shut down due to COVID-19. As we all know, Atkinson was eventually replaced by Steve Nash, but that isn’t a move that’s worked out for Brooklyn, either.
With the 2022-23 NBA season set to begin in two months, tensions within the Nets organization remain high. KD recently held a meeting with owner Joe Tsai and gave him an ultimatum (subscription required), which has been viewed as a move to force Brooklyn to lower its asking price for the 12-time All-Star.
And to think that reportedly one of the reasons that Durant and Irving chose to sign with the Nets over the Knicks was because they thought that they’d be able to have more control in Brooklyn.
Knowing what they do now, do Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving regret not signing with the Knicks?
According to Marc Stein (subscription required), KD and Kyrie’s plan to sign with Brooklyn didn’t go as expected. He wrote:
For all of Irving’s professed fondness for the franchise as a New Jersey Nets fan in his youth, he and Durant are believed to have chosen the Nets over the Knicks in free agency largely because they perceived Brooklyn, as much as anything, to be willing to bend to their will far more than James Dolan-owned New York would. That is no longer happening, hence the chaos.
It’s clear that the Knicks were better off not signing Durant and Irving, regardless of the level of talent that they both possess. The two of them believing that Brooklyn would “bend to their will” more so than New York ended up imploding the Nets organization.
No matter which way you look at it, the past two seasons were a failure in Brooklyn. Since KD came back from his Achilles tear in 2020, the Nets have failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs, even after trading for James Harden.
It might’ve stung three years ago to learn that Durant and Irving were signing with Brooklyn, but New York benefitted in the long run. If they’re both traded, the Nets will be back at square one, although that seems to be the best case for them based on how things currently stand.
Anyways, thank you, James Dolan?