Injuries to two of the Golden State Warriors’ biggest stars during this month’s NBA Finals could have an impact on this summer’s entire free-agent landscape, one the New York Knicks could impact greatly.
Kevin Durant (ruptured Achilles) had been rumored all season as a possibility to leave Golden State for New York, with teammate Klay Thompson (torn ACL) expected by most to be staying put. Both injuries could cost each player the entire 2019-20 season.
That shouldn’t make the Knicks change their plans if they had already intended to chase Durant in free agency, according to "Inside The NBA" co-host Kenny Smith.
“If [Kevin Durant] was the guy, he still has to be your guy,” Smith, a Queens native, told amNewYork on Tuesday at Moxy NYC Downtown. “You can’t abort the mission two weeks out. If he was the guy, whatever you are going to do to convince him to be here, you have to continue to do to convince him to be here.”
Durant, a former league MVP and two-time Finals MVP, suffered his injury during the second quarter of the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the champion Toronto Raptors. It was the 30-year-old’s first game back after missing the previous nine postseason games with a calf injury. But multiple reports indicate the severity of the injury may not scare away teams who can offer the nine-time All-Star a long-term, max-money contract.
Before anyone can sign Durant, Thursday’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center in Brooklyn will see the Knicks bring aboard young talent. They hold the No. 3 overall pick, and many expect them to select Duke’s R.J. Barrett. Smith, a two-time NBA champion during his 10-year playing career, believes Barrett is a smart match with the Knicks.
“I think he has a great deal of versatility," said Smith, who on Tuesday partnered with JCPenney to host an evening of mentorship for young basketball players from the local Boys & Girls Clubs basketball teams. "His ability to score is really unique for that position. I think it will be a good fit.”