Kyrie Irving

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving pairing seen as inevitable

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving pairing seen as inevitable

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are best friends. This we know.

But how strong that friendship is might go a long way to reshaping the NBA landscape this summer.

Both Durant and Irving can decline their player options and become unrestricted free agents this summer, and rumors have swirled about the possibility to the two joining forces in New York all year.

But with Durant looking to win his third straight championship with the Warriors, and Irving seemingly in a good situation in Boston, would both stars really elect to leave those situations for the uncertainty of the Knicks?

Apparently, if you ask around the NBA, the answer is a resounding yes, according to The Athletic's Frank Isola. So much so, in fact, that executives and scouts believe there is only one question left when it comes to Durant and Irving heading to the Knicks: Who will sign first?

"The belief is that Durant will only join the Knicks if another high-level free agent agrees to sign with the Knicks as well," Isola writes. "The most likely candidate is the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving, who coincidentally won a championship in Cleveland as Robin to LeBron’s Batman. He could fill that same role at MSG. So sure are some executives and player agents of a Durant-Irving pairing in New York that one agent told The Athletic that Durant and Irving are debating on who will sign first. Why is that important? The player that is signed second is viewed as the follower, not the leader."

Alright, let's get into this.

First of all, is it likely that Durant and Irving want to play together? Of course, who wouldn't want to work with their best friend, let alone try and win a title with them? That's only human and no one could fault them for making that decision.

Now, have Durant and Irving already made up their minds to leave the Warriors and Celtics for the dysfunction of the Knicks? That seems doubtful. With the playoffs approaching, both players have their attention firmly locked on getting to the NBA Finals. While they might have an idea of what they would like to do, it seems like a longshot that their decision to join forces in the Big Apple is cemented.

[RELATED: KD, Klay reportedly unlikely to sign with Lakers in offseason]

Both stars will have a number of suitors this offseason, and should they choose to join the Knicks, the NBA landscape will forever be altered. But we won't know the answer until after the Warriors are done defending their crown.

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson 'unlikely' to sign with Lakers

NBA rumors: Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson 'unlikely' to sign with Lakers

This summer could make-or-break the LeBron James era with the Lakers, and it's starting to sound like it might be a bust.

James and the Lakers drastically underperformed expectations this season, with injuries, bad chemistry and poor roster construction causing the superstar forward to miss the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. L.A. faces a crucial upcoming summer, where they will try to woo another big-name free agent to Tinseltown in order to play Robin to James' Batman. 

Many have floated the idea of Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson, both of whom will be free agents this summer, leaving the vaunted Warriors to join James in L.A. But it doesn't appear the Lakers have a good chance of landing either of the Warriors' stars, according to The Athletic's Bill Oram.

While Durant, Thompson and Kawhi Leonard all are expected to be high on the Lakers' offseason wishlist, rival executives believe it is "unlikely" either of three will join James, according to Oram, as the opinion around the league is that the Lakers are second or third on each of those players' lists.

Ouch.

If that turns out to be the case, the Lakers will be left with trying to sell Kyrie Irving on rejoining James or turn their attention to the B-group of free agents that includes Jimmy Butler, Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins and Tobias Harris. 

Irving reportedly will grant the Lakers a meeting, but it seems unlikely the guy who forced his way out of James' shadow in Cleveland would come crawling back. However, it's impossible to tell what a mercurial star like Irving will do.

[RELATED: KD reportedly 'ready to move on;' Klay would sign max deal]

Should the Lakers whiff on all the big-name guys, they'll be forced to surround James with better role players and hope young stars Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma take another leap.

And we saw how that plan of attack worked this year.

NBA rumors: Kyrie Irving will give Lakers a meeting in free agency

NBA rumors: Kyrie Irving will give Lakers a meeting in free agency

It's been a tumultuous season for the Celtics, and the latest rumor isn't going to help.

During his radio show on Monday, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith revealed an intriguing piece of information.

"I'm told Kyrie Irving will grant the Lakers an interview this offseason," Smith declared. "The Lakers will have an opportunity to get Kyrie Irving to come to LA. I didn't say he's coming to LA. I did not say that. I don't know what he's gonna do.

"But during his free agent tour, I'm told he's gonna give the Lakers an interview. Which by the way, is very big news, because LeBron James is already there for the next three years. And this man left Cleveland because he didn't want to play with LeBron James.

"So the fact that he's willing to spend time and talk to the Lakers and give it consideration -- that's a long way from the Kyrie Irving that left Cleveland, and left LeBron in Cleveland."

The possibility of the Warriors facing Kyrie, LeBron and the Lakers at least four times a year sounds fantastic.

Back in mid-January, Kyrie shocked everybody when he told reporters (unsolicted) that he called LeBron to apologize for how he handled things in Cleveland, and to clear the air.

A couple weeks later, Yahoo's Chris Haynes reported that Anthony Davis wasn't targeting the Celtics in a trade because of growing uncertainty regarding Kyrie's long-term future in Boston.

Shortly thereafter, Bleacher Report's Ric Bucher reported that, "Kyrie Irving is genuinely interested in reuniting with" LeBron James.

A couple days later, Kyrie poured gasoline on the speculation when he was asked if he still plans on re-signing with the Celtics during the summer.

“Ask me July 1," he told reporters. "At the end of the day, I’m going to do what’s best for my career. I spent the last eight years trying to do what everyone else wanted me to do -- managers, other personnel -- and I don't owe anybody sh*t.  

And then of course, there is all the chatter about Kyrie and Kevin Durant joining forces with the Knicks.

For now, put all of this noise on the backburner and enjoy the NBA Playoffs. It's two months of awesomeness.

Follow @DrewShiller on Twitter and Instagram