The Knicks and Celtics are the darkhorses in the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes as both franchises have a significant amount of franchise acne to clear up before asking KD to dance.
The Knicks, despite already owning a superstar player in Carmelo Anthony, seem light-years away from a title. The Celtics, who do not currently own a superstar player but are closer to a title right now than the Knicks are, have never lured a big-name free agent to Boston in their storied history.
Both franchises are unable to X-off traditional big-name NBA free agent check boxes.
Warm weather? Nope.
One player away from title contention? Nope.
Recent playoff success? Nope.
As of now, here is their main non-OKC competition: the Wizards, the Heat, the Lakers and the Rockets.
Neither the Knicks or Celtics obviously have the hometown lure that the Washington Wizards do. The Knicks and Celtics can’t compete weather-wise with the Heat, Lakers and even Rockets, and neither franchise has sniffed the NBA Finals in the past three years.
But the major plus that the Knicks and Celtics do have is that they both reside in the Eastern Conference, which means a much easier path to the Finals each year. Yup, the Wizards and Heat have that same advantage – but the sell job to both places should be tricky.
All due respect to Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld, but he does not carry anywhere close to the same amount of championship pedigree as a Phil Jackson or a Danny Ainge. Both Jackson and Ainge can say without a chuckle that they know what it takes to win a title in the league.
Miami’s Pat Riley has that cache and more, but Durant must know that if he goes to South Beach to win a title he will be viewed as nothing more than a LeBron Jr..
One area where we do know that the East Coast bias does not exist is in NBA free agency, but Durant is expected to at least listen to the two darkhorse franchises up I-95.
Durant held his “exit interview” with the media in Oklahoma City Wednesday. It wasn’t as ominous as it sounds, but No. 35 did discuss his pending free agency.
“It’s kind of new for me to, ya know, everybody wanting to know what I’m going to do and all this stuff,” Durant said. “It’s kind of different and kind of new for me but I’m learning along the way.”
Durant seemed relaxed (see video above) and in no way was he “LeBron-y” in terms of giving cryptic responses to questions about his future and past.
He did respond past tense while talking about his time in Oklahoma City, but we’ll be fair and actually post the question that was asked, too.
Reporter: “Kevin, nine years with this franchise – as you reflect what are you most appreciative of and thankful for?”
Durant: “Just the way we built this from the ground up, just the journey that we all took together from the ground up.”
If those words came out of LeBron’s mouth in an “exit interview” there would be great cause for alarm, mainly because we’ve already seem him jet a situation. But with Durant we should thankfully expect a good amount of transparency throughout this whole free agency process.
Mercifully, his decision will in no way be like THE Decision.