Unless you live under a rock, then you have probably heard that Kevin Durant will become a free agent after the season.
The 30-year old has a chance to win his third NBA Championship along with his third Finals' MVP award. He has done plenty of winning as a member of the Golden State Warriors which makes people think that he will leave to go rebuild his legacy.
What better place to do so than the Mecca? The Knicks have been linked to Durant for several months. When Kristaps Porzingis was traded to Dallas, many believed this was to make room in the cap for Durant.
Whether Durant decides to leave is yet to be seen. The Knicks should not get too comfortable before a decision is made. Both teams in Los Angeles have been mentioned in the same sentence as Durant. Who is to say that the former MVP does not just stay in Oakland and keep winning?
July 1 is a huge day for all NBA teams. Come the summer, there could be a new surprise team that is starting to poke their head into the mix — the Brooklyn Nets.
In the end, it could be the two teams from New York battling it out for Durant.
3. D'Angelo Russell
Russell was the second pick in the 2015 NBA Draft to the Lakers. He spent two seasons in Los Angeles before being shipped away and labeled a bust, despite averaging 15.6 points during his sophomore campaign.
In Brooklyn, Russell has a lot more tattoos, a new hair style and a completely rejuvenated career. The Most Improved Player candidate is averaging 20.8 points per game this season while shooting 36% from three-point range. He has turned into a star for the Nets. They have leaned on him all season to take big shots and he has not disappointed.
The Nets are a team full of young talent that includes Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris. Durant could look at the Nets' roster as a more attractive list to join than the Knicks.
Russell would be a huge reason. This would give Durant another option on the offensive end that the Knicks do not have. The Nets are fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the weak Eastern Conference. They are no threat to win a championship, however making the postseason could be just enough to lure Durant.
The Knicks have room to land two max players in free agency along with one of the top picks in this summer's draft. Ultimately, their options as of now are just pipe dreams. The Nets have their roster set.
All they need is one big name free agent to commit, and Durant is the biggest name out there.
2. Media Coverage
In February, Thirty Five Ventures moved their headquarters to New York. This was seen as a foreshadow of Durant coming to New York with his company.
The Knicks have been New York's team since the franchise first stepped on the court in 1946. Madison Square Garden is known as the “World's Most Famous Arena.” The media in New York will turn any superstar into a king.
Now, there is a second team in New York.
The New Jersey Nets turned into the Brooklyn Nets prior to the 2012-2013 season. They began their era in Brooklyn with two straight winning seasons. The Nets have not had a winning season since.
Being in New York makes the Nets instantly more attractive. Durant already has a plethora of endorsement deals that includes Nike and Beats. He came in at 11th on “Forbes' World's Highest Paid Athletes List” for 2018. Durant will be getting a max contract wherever he signs so money is not an issue. It is often forgotten that the Nets are now in New York.
They do not have the same buzz around their franchise, however the Nets could offer just as many endorsement offers as the Knicks.
In Brooklyn, Durant will still have access to Madison Avenue and all the luxuries that any player in New York has. When these two teams meet with Durant, the Knicks will try to sell him on the lifestyle.
The Nets should be able to do the same thing, if not better.
1. Rebuilding his Legacy
July 4, 2016 is a date that will be remembered in the NBA forever. Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder had just blown a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to the Warriors just two months prior.
On Independence Day, Durant decided to join the 73-win team that took his Thunder team down. Durant took his talents to Oakland to join Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Three years later, Durant is trying to win his third NBA Championship and third Finals' MVP. But do they have an asterisk next to them?
There has been no doubt that the Warriors have been Durant's team once the playoffs roll around. When he decided to make the move to the Warriors, his legacy was immediately questioned. He did not stay with the franchise that drafted him. Durant left for a historic team that was already great.
Did Durant sellout or did he make the smart decision for himself? That argument is long over with. Durant made his decision because he wanted to fill his hand with rings rather than being a great player that never wins. From John Stockton and Karl Malone to Charles Barkley to Allen Iverson, there are many all-time great players that never won a ring. Durant did not want to be on that list.
Now that Durant will most likely have three championships at season's end, he can decide to leave and rebuild his legacy. The Nets have not been to an NBA Finals since 2003 when they lost their second in a row. They do not have an NBA Championship. All the Nets have is two ABA championships during the Julius Erving days. This is a team that is looking to return to the postseason.
They need that one superstar that can take them to where they want to be.
Durant can certainly insert his name into basketball royalty if he ever won in the Garden, however the same could be done if he led the Nets to a title.