Every time Kevin Durant goes out and torches an opponent this postseason, it will be impossible not to think about what could be next for the Warriors star.
Durant has the option to opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent, a move that almost everyone expects the two-time NBA Finals MVP to make.
Should Durant hit the open market, he'll have a number of teams vying or his services, with the New York Knicks expected to be the team that lands the 7-foot star should he leave the Bay Area.
While Durant has been adamant that he has yet to make his free-agency decision, Knicks president Steve Mills sure sounds optimistic that something good is coming the Knicks' way.
"We’re hopeful and we’re excited,’’ Mills told The New York Post. “We’re excited because now we’re in position. There’s a lot of noise and a lot of guys are interested in New York. They like [head coach David Fizdale]. They like some of the changes we made in the organization. We hear that from agents. We read it from guys getting interviewed about what guys feel about the Knicks. We hear that from other players. At least we’re in the game, and hopeful something really good happens. But we won’t know until it happens."
“It also gives us the opportunity that if things don’t happen in free agency, we’re sticking to our plan. We’re not going to sign the wrong players just because we have room and the fans have great expectations. They should have expectations we make the right decisions. It gives us the opportunities to eventually explore trades and take guys into [that] room.”
Interesting. Of course, what's he supposed to say?
Regardless, the fact that Mills is hearing free agents are interested in the Knicks should worry just about every fan base that has a marquee player set to hit free agency this offseason.
The noise surrounding a potential Durant-Knicks union has been around all season, but it got louder in January when New York traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, opening up $74 million in cap space, which is enough for two max free agents.
Durant will undoubtedly be the big fish the Knicks chase this offseason if given the chance, but with Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker also hitting the market, the Knicks will potentially have the ability to pair Durant with another superstar, most likely Irving if everything goes their way. Oh, and the Knicks -- thanks to a 17-65 record -- have a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick to select Duke phenom Zion Williamson.
While the Knicks appear to be in a good place to woo Durant and potentially Irving, should he opt out of his contract, Knicks general manager Scott Perry is trying to temper expectations a bit.
“Our vision is eventually is to become a championship-caliber team,’’ Perry said. “All our planning has that in mind. We’re not going to look at this summer as the end-all or be-all, per se. We’re excited to be in the game. We’re not going to go off the rails if we don’t get what you’re talking about. We’ll be very comfortable with the draft and what we can add via trade to be a better basketball team.”
Durant's body language recently has made it seem like he's ready for a fresh start, as some reports have indicated. After turning the ball over nine times and putting up only eight shots in the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, it looked like the star might need a push to get re-engaged as the playoffs ramp up.
As it turns out, all the 2014 MVP needed was for people to suggest Patrick Beverley had been bothering him on the offensive end. Durant came out in Thursday's Game 3 and tortured the Clippers, pouring in 38 points on 14-for-23 shooting in the Dubs' 132-105 win.
[RELATED: Warriors reportedly complained to NBA about Patrick Beverley's defense on Kevin Durant]
Somewhere Mills and Perry were watching Durant light the Clippers on fire, and they were smiling while thinking about the show he might be putting on at Madison Square Garden in a few months.