Chances are Kevin Durant will have already made up his mind when he sits down with the Knicks. Same with Kyrie Irving and the rest of the highest-class of free agents.
But meetings will occur, nonetheless, and David Fizdale – the excellent pitchman – will be a part of New York’s contingent. The big question is how much James Dolan will be involved after his failed meetings with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in 2010.
“All hands-on deck, man. All hands-on deck. This is going to be a big summer for us,” Fizdale said Friday on ESPN Radio. “At the end of day, Steve (Mills) and Scott (Perry) are running this deal. And my job is to assist them any way I can. Probably the best way I can do it is to make sure I have the vision from the coaching perspective to show each guy we talk to – ‘this is how I plan on using you,’ ‘this is how you fit into the big scheme of things,’ ‘this is how guys around you are going to fit,’ – and really try to give them a security about who they’re going to play for.”
Telling Durant where he fits on the Knicks will be an easy conversation – “Anywhere you want.” But regarding the Knicks’ ability to produce a winner, there’s a lot that should require explanation. After all, they own the NBA’s worst record since 2001 and are coming off the co-worst season in franchise history.
Fizdale pumped up the team’s assets, including the two draft picks recouped in the trade for Kristaps Porzingis.
“We’re set up to build something that’s longstanding,” Fizdale said. “When you have seven picks in five years on top of cap space and things like that – and young talent in the stable – we have an opportunity to be good for a long time.”
In an unprecedented move, the Knicks scrapped their postseason media availability for players. They also haven’t yet scheduled the annual press conference with executives. The Knicks have gone silent, but the plan is understood. Their Durant chase is as much a secret as the Lakers’ pursuit of LeBron last year.
In related news, Fizdale revealed to ESPN Radio that DeAndre Jordan declined opportunities to join playoff teams so that he could stay with the Knicks. Jordan was acquired at the end of January from the Mavericks, and there were playoff-bound teams interested in his services.
The Knicks offered a buyout – similar to what they did for Wes Matthews and Enes Kanter – but Jordan declined. Not coincidentally, Jordan is great buddies with Durant and has thoroughly enjoyed his treatment in New York. Re-signing Jordan will be difficult for the Knicks if they use up cap space on two max free agents. But where there’s a Durant signature, there’s a way to most anything else.
Jordan was part of the small Clippers contingent that pitched to Durant in 2016. He also vacationed with Durant in Greece that summer.