New York Knicks: How Warriors success sans Kevin Durant impacts free agency

Warriors Kevin Durant (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)
Warriors Kevin Durant (Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images) /

How might Golden State’s winning without Kevin Durant impact his free agency with the New York Knicks?

The New York Knicks have stood at the front of the Kevin Durant free-agent saga since the fall, with few doubts otherwise of where he will land this summer, even with Golden State potentially winning its third straight NBA Championship.

Let’s flashback to Nov. 13, the night that ignited the “Kevin Durant is leaving for sure” rumors. Durant and Draymond Green got into a heated exchange after Green failed to get Durant the ball and forced an ugly turnover in the finals seconds of regulation in a regular season loss to the Clippers.  The exchange carried into the locker room where it’s reported that Green said to Durant “We don’t need you, we won without you”, among other not very nice things.

For anyone who has been in a fight with a significant other and said something way out of bounds, knows that regretful feeling of “oh boy I can’t take this back can I?” Although the Warriors tried to downplay the argument, it was clear to everyone that this would be very difficult to forgive and forget, especially someone with the fragile psyche of Durant.

Even Warriors general manager Bob Meyers had a public hiccup with the idea of Kevin Durant not being a true Warrior, as he joked that “Steph has been here since the way-before days. He’s earned it” (talking about giving him a contract extension vs giving Durant an extension). The aftermath of this blunder created an incredibly awkward environment which forced Meyers to apologize to Durant, although the team claimed there were no hard feelings between the two.

Flash forward to today, the Golden State Warriors just swept the Blazers in the Western Conference Finals.  The Warriors are now an astonishing 31-1 in the last 32 games played they have played with Steph Curry but without Durant (including 7-0 in the playoffs). It’s past the point where we ask “do the Warriors need Kevin Durant?”, but now, the point where every sports television show is asking “are the Warriors better without Kevin Durant?”

Several ex-NBA players have said publicly there is an asterisk on Durant’s two rings, arguing that he needs to prove he can win a championship by himself and not on the backs of a 73 win team.  To connect ties with the Knicks and Durant, Clyde Frazier of all people was actually the most vocal/critical about Durant’s chosen NBA path that has led him to Golden State. It is becoming evident for Durant: the more that the Warriors win without him, the more likely he will leave the team in this upcoming free agency.

If Durant is unable to return from his calf injury and the Warriors win the title, it will be impossible for him to shake the narrative that he joined a team that doesn’t need him. After all, this team was prematurely dubbed the “greatest team of all time” when they won 73 regular season games in 2016.

The only scenario — a nightmare for New York Knicks fans — is Durant can stay with the Warriors, is if the Warriors lose in this years’ finals.  If he is unable to return due to injury and the Warriors get bounced, this will give him the out to stay since he would be able to come back next year and put them over the top.

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Even if Durant does come back and they lose, if he left after not finishing the deal in Golden State then he would be leaving unceremoniously which would be a bad look for him in the Bay. Knicks fans should selfishly be rooting for the Warriors to win the NBA Finals, so that the narrative surrounding Durant forces him to leave to the Big Apple.