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Knicks president adds fuel to fire surrounding Kevin Durant's free agency

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Knicks president adds fuel to fire surrounding Kevin Durant's free agency

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.

NBA free agency: Why Jalen Rose says Klay Thompson stays with Warriors

NBA free agency: Why Jalen Rose says Klay Thompson stays with Warriors

Warriors shooting Klay Thompson made it clear he wasn't happy he was left off all three All-NBA teams. Behind the scenes, the front office should be sharing high fives. 

Thompson's omission saves Golden State at least $30 million this offseason. He's no longer eligible for a $221 million super-max contract. The biggest deal he could sign with the team in free agency is for five years and $191 million now. 

And the perceived snub by some nearly guarantees Thompson signs with the Warriors, Jalen Rose believes. 

"I've never believed he was leaving, but now I know he ain't leaving," Rose said on Jalen & Jacoby. "You just lost out on 30 (million) because you didn't make All-NBA. If you leave, you'll get a four-year deal instead of a five-year deal, which would cost you another $30 million. 

"I really now can almost guarantee that he's gonna stay with the team." 

Co-host David Jacoby then asked Rose if he believes the Warriors will offer Klay the max. 

"Yes," Rose said emphatically. "Yes. Yes. Yes, yes." 

[RELATED: Klay, Kyrie or Russ? Stephen A. makes his pick for All-NBA]

Throughout the season, Thompson has made every indication he wants to be a Warrior for life. He and the team can take the first steps in making that happen with a hefty, long-term contract in the coming months.

LeBron James fuels Kyrie Irving-to-Lakers talk with Instagram activity

LeBron James fuels Kyrie Irving-to-Lakers talk with Instagram activity

We know LeBron James reportedly is already recruiting free agents to join him on the Lakers.

James has already reached out to Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler, but a former championship teammate of his also is set to hit the market in July.

After the Boston Celtics' season took a nosedive in the second round of the NBA playoffs, many expect Kyrie Irving to opt not to re-sign with the C's and instead head for greener pastures. While the New York Knicks are seen as the likely destination, whispers of a potential reunion with James have been growing louder and louder.

Irving apologized to James for the way things ended between them in Cleveland, and the All-Star guard reportedly "has had discussions" about joining the Lakers this summer.

A James-Irving reunion might seem far-fetched, but the two stars hung out together Thursday in Los Angeles, and then James liked a photoshopped picture of Irving in a Lakers jersey.

It looks like free agency really does begin before June 30.

[RELATED: Draymond calls not playing LeBron in playoffs a mindf--k]

Now, does this mean the Lakers should start drawing up the contract for Irving right now? Of course not, but it's clear what LeBron's goal is. 

If James and the Lakers want to have any chance of knocking off the Warriors next season, they'll need to find another star to pair with James.  While Leonard and Butler would give the Lakers a versatile, two-way star to hound the Warriors' stars, Irving has the championship experience and familiarity with James that the Lakers need to take them to the top.

If the Lakers add a star this offseason, Irving feels like he'll be the one.