- Gregory Shamus/Getty
- The New York Knicks did not offer Kevin Durant the full $164 million max contract over concerns about his torn Achilles tendon, according to a report.
- Durant signed with the Brooklyn Nets for $164 million.
- Some in the NBA world felt it was a poor time to be concerned about signing Durant to a big contract, as Durant was the Knicks’ top target.
- Others wondered whether the Knicks intentionally put a spin on the situation after not signing Durant.
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Kevin Durant will reportedly join the Brooklyn Nets on a four-year, $164 million contract, spurning the New York Knicks after nearly a full year of free-agency buzz.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Knicks did not offer Durant the full max contract over fears about the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in the NBA Finals.
In the lead-up to free agency, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on “Get Up!” that he had heard the Knicks owner James Dolan wanted to see Durant’s medical records before offering a contract.
The Knicks have been widely criticized in the wake of Shelburne’s report, as Durant’s market didn’t appear to be affected by the injury. The Nets offered Durant the full maximum they could, while the Golden State Warriors reportedly offered him their full max of $221 million over five years.
Amin Elhassan, an ESPN analyst who previously worked as an executive with the Phoenix Suns, reacted in shock upon hearing the news on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Sunday. Elhassan argued that the Knicks should have been willing to offer Durant the full max contract, knowing other teams would too.
— ESPN (@espn) June 30, 2019
Others in the NBA world also expressed skepticism. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News suggested the Knicks did not offer the max – or put it out there that they did not – because they knew they were not landing Durant.
Top free agents didn’t want to go to the Knicks. Fine. Figure out why, learn from it, and try to get better at building an attractive destination. Don’t engage in the PR spin stuff. It doesn’t help. https://t.co/cEPNSjqSIq
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) July 1, 2019
There is risk involved in signing Durant to the max. If he misses the entire 2019-2020 season, as is expected, he will be 32 when he returns to the floor from his torn Achilles, with many miles on his legs from deep playoff runs. There’s no guarantee Durant will be the same player when he returns.
For years, the Knicks have been criticized for overspending on aging players with injury histories – most recently when they signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million contract in 2016. Long-term, expensive contracts for players like Amar’e Stoudemire and Allan Houston in previous years came back to haunt the team as it tried to move forward.
Deciding not to offer the max to Durant this summer, however, may be a poor time to have grown concerned with spending. Durant’s skill level is such that some think even a lesser version of him would still have an impact. Given the Knicks’ all-in pursuit of the top free agents – which included trading Kristaps Porzingis to open up two max cap slots – losing out on Durant almost assuredly meant moving to plan B and signing less impactful players.