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The New York Knicks were seen as favorites to land superstar free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the offseason, but on the first day of free agency, they were dealt a serious blow.
Durant and Irving both decided to sign with the Knicks’ cross-borough rivals, the Brooklyn Nets. The two players’ decision to head to Brooklyn instead of Manhattan left the organization “stunned and “depressed,” The Athletic reported Saturday, citing an unidentified source.
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New York could have paired Durant and Irving with rookie R.J. Barrett and second-year forward Kevin Knox and what could have been an intimidating team in the Eastern Conference.
But the Knicks’ brand just doesn’t appear to be what it once was. Durant said as much during a radio interview earlier this month.
“I think a lot of fans look at the Knicks as a brand and expect these younger players in their lifetime don't remember the Knicks being good,” Durant told Hot 97 FM. “I've seen the Knicks in the Finals, but kids coming up after me didn't see that. So that whole brand of the Knicks is not as cool as, let's say, the Golden State Warriors, or even the Lakers or the Nets now.”
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He added: “You know what I'm saying; the cool thing now is not the Knicks.”
Durant said he didn’t even consider the Knicks.
The Nets will be without Durant for the first season of his contract as he recovers from an Achilles injury. The Irving-led squad will start their season Wednesday at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Knicks will begin their season on the road Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.
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The two New York City teams will have their first meeting on Friday.