Kevin Durant talks up Knicks’ potential with free agency looming
Kevin Durant talked a lot about the Knicks on Tuesday but not about joining the Knicks. The Warriors’ 6-11 superstar all but admitted he doesn’t want to say anything that he might regret.
At the morning shootaround at the Warriors’ Oakland practice complex ahead of facing the Knicks, Durant said rookie Kevin Knox has “a bright future,” confirmed his alliance with rookie Allonzo Trier, said the Knicks are a young team starting “to figure it out” and hopes to see Kristaps Porzingis make a commanding return.
Durant was the first one to brand Porzingis “The Unicorn” back in the Latvian’s rookie season. Will they ever be teammates? Durant seemed to have a strong working knowledge of the franchise but shied away from confirming if he would place the Knicks on his radar this summer in his free agency despite his many New York connections.
In fact, at one juncture, Durant said, “I have connections everywhere in the United States.”
When asked directly if he would confirm the scuttlebutt the Knicks would be in play, Durant said: “I have no clue where that stuff comes from. I just focus on playing ball every single day. I can’t control what people say about me, or what they say about our f
“Last time we played against them, the level of discipline they had didn’t last for four quarters, but you could tell a young team is starting to get it and figure it out,” Durant said. “Just the way they play and playing hard and giving it all for their coach, you can see that playing against them.”
Knicks owner James Dolan all but said Monday the Knicks would be a playoff team with Porzingis. Durant just hopes he’s back soon, sensing how much New York embraces the 7-3 forward.
“I hope that he recovers from the injury and gets to play the game that he loves,” Durant said. “Obviously he loves to play and fans of New York and his teammates love having him out there. I know how tough injuries are and being away from the game for so long can be tough on the brain sometimes, especially if you love it. So hopefully he gets back on the court.”
Durant never trademarked “The Unicorn” nickname for Porzingis.
“I should,” Durant said. “They ran with that one. Seeing a guy that’s 7-3 being able to shoot so effortlessly. Usually guys take a while to get their jump shot off at the 3-point line. He had a quick trigger from deep. That’s rare to see at that height.”
uture and what I should do. I come to work every single day, and life will figure itself out.”
Durant was then asked how it feels to be peppered with New York questions.
“I just got to do it,” Durant said. “You guys asked for me, I got to talk. If I don’t, I’ll get fined. That’s all. So I’m just trying to be as honest as I can about the question but also give you what you need for your job but also not say anything that’ll ….”
At that point, after sitting for 10 minutes, Durant stopped himself, smiled and said, “Let me just get out of here.”
During the interview, Durant acknowledged it was a bit awkward facing a player such as Knox, who grew up trying to mimic his every move, but was very complimentary.
“I got a chance to watch a lot of the young guys in the league so far, and he’s one of the guys having a good year,” Durant said. “He was injured at the start of the season and he’s coming back. Coach put him in the starting lineup and [he’s] playing some great minutes. He’s really starting to get a feel for the game. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Durant, who is 30, still feels too young to be immortalized like that.
“I feel still young in this league,” Durant said. “I’m still learning every day, too. I have to realize I’ve been in 10-plus years now. There’s more kids coming up [who were] in middle school and high school and I was playing in OKC. It’s cool.”
In the first encounter in late October at the Garden, the Knicks were tied with eight minutes left before being blown out, 128-100. Durant finished with 41 points. He said Tuesday he can feel the players are giving it up for first-year Knicks coach David Fizdale despite the 10-30 clip.
Durant’s New York ties are substantial. His manager, Rick Kleiman, lives in New York — a lifelong Knicks fan. Durant’s father has cheered on the Knicks his whole life. Durant is longtime buddies with Knicks assistant coach Royal Ivey — both former Longhorns.
“Our league has grown so much in popularity,” Durant said. “The sexy thing is what happens in the summer more so than what happens in the season — playoffs and free agency is the big thing now. I get it. But for me as a person, I just have to focus on the game.”
Durant has even grown close to Trier, who played high school ball in Oklahoma City for two years. Trier went undrafted and recently had his two-way G League contract converted to a two-year, $6.8 million deal with the Knicks.
“He’s a great friend,” Durant said. “Before he went to Arizona, it was somebody I got to know over the years. It’s great to see him get a contract where he can feel stable and take care of his family. Coming into the year, a two-way contract, it’s kind of up in the air. It was good to see him get some commitment from the Knicks. It shows he’s worth a spot on the team and in the league as well. He’s making a mark for himself. I’m more so happy about that.” – nypost.com