Add Doc Rivers to the list of people who thought Kevin Durant would go to the New York Knicks in 2019.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers thought Kevin Durant was headed to the New York Knicks last summer, like everyone else. Appearing as a guest on The Boardroom podcast with Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman, Rivers said he thought KD would choose to call Madison Square Garden home in becoming the “King of New York City.”
"“Early on, I was like, ok, Rich is from New York, [Durant] can be the King of New York City, I got a feeling KD is going to the Knicks,” Durant said on The Boardroom podcast. “Listen, I’m in the league and I actually thought that so you know everybody else thought it as well.”"
Of course, Durant ended up signing with the New York’s cross-borough rivals in Brooklyn. In the weeks leading up to his decision, he suffered a devastating Achilles tendon injury in the NBA Finals while playing for the Golden State Warriors. Many have speculated that his injury might have changed the course of history, wondering if he was more comfortable sitting out a season in rehab with the Nets who employed one of his trainers and had a roster more ready-made to compete, even with him on the sideline.
While it seemed to be a desparate PR move leaked by the Knicks at the time, ESPN reported last June that James Dolan was reluctant to offer Durant a max contract due to concerns over his injury.
In the end, it appears that Kyrie Irving’s decision to sign with Brooklyn was the main reason why Durant, who had been talking with Kyrie about joining forces for nearly a year, ended up passing on the Knicks.
Kleiman told Rivers in the podcast that Knicks fans still badger him for any potential role he played in convincing Durant to sign in Brooklyn. He said the reports from the media about KD inevitably landing with the Knicks built a narrative that wasn’t necessarily true.
"“The whole media thought Kevin was going to the Knicks last year,” Kleiman said. “And the media will take a narrative and do what it needs to.”"
Knicks owner James Dolan ended up with egg on his face for speaking confidently about his team’s ability to attract free agents during an ESPN radio interview. But Dolan was seemingly reading the same tea leaves as several prominent NBA reporters who made it seem like it was a near done deal for Durant to sign with the Knicks.
Rivers played for the Knicks as a guard under Pat Riley in the nineties. During the podcast, he gave credit to his time playing for Riley as helping him become the coach he is today.