New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay reacts to Kevin Durant rumors

New York Knicks Emmanuel Mudiay (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
New York Knicks Emmanuel Mudiay (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The New York Knicks have been linked to Kevin Durant since the preseason. What does Emmanuel Mudiay think of it?

Free agency is the topic that never disappears in the NBA, especially for the New York Knicks since the 2018 offseason. The drama of players moving months down the road has taken over the in-game action, for better or worse, and adds a different layer to the daily events. President Steve Mills recently added feud to that fire.

Part of that attributes to Kevin Durant‘s impending free agency — a much discussed topic since the preseason. He can leave the Golden State Warriors after two championships and potentially a third one, with the Knicks as his linked-to destination due to $70 million in cap space, signing for about $38 million of it in a maximum contract.

The Durant rumors started before the Knicks played a game, and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay was aware of it. He spoke to SI TV about it, and while this was not a distraction, it became a difficult topic to ignore:

"“I wouldn’t say it’s weird. I would say it’s kind of expected.It could get weird for a rookie or a second-year guy. Just because you’re not really used to that, but at the same time, that’s just what the media is going to do. They’re going to try to build up a story, and that’s their job. That’s what they have to do, so you kind of just have to keep your head down and finish out the season and play every day as if he’s not there — which he’s not there yet.“Is that someone New York definitely wants? No doubt, with what he’s done in his career. The scorer he is. The type of player he is. The type of person he is. I wouldn’t say it’s a distraction, but I would say you can’t miss it. “"

That’s all the players can do, since nothing could happen during the season: play through the rumors until the final game.

With the Knicks at a franchise-tying 17-65 record, it puts a greater emphasis on just closing the season and pushing the rumors aside. Since the roster was set up for the 2019 offseason — a high draft pick and ample cap space — fans looked towards the future from the start, to hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.

With an 18-game losing streak, the Kristaps Porzingis saga and a six month season, that is all the fans could do, too, with the year lost in the early fall.

As for Mudiay, will he stick around to see Durant potentially sign? He can hit restricted free agency, so the Knicks may match any offer sheet he signs. However, the front office needs to renounce the fourth-year man’s cap figure to contribute to the $70 million and ability to sign two max free agents.

Mudiay had a career year in 2018-19, with 14.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists on 44.9 percent shooting. He started 42 games at point guard and would have more if not for injuries, including a shoulder strain in January. Dennis Smith Jr.’s arrival also changed the point guard situation.

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The New York Knicks could have a revamped roster by July, and Durant and Mudiay may or may not be part of it. Decisions won’t arrive until the early summer, so the rumors and speculation will only persist.