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August 19, 2019

The Knicks are so terrible the only thing left to sell Kevin Durant on is the chance to save the franchise

February 10, 2019

Kevin Durant caught flack for signing with the greatest regular-season team in NBA history. And if he’s looking for approval from those critics, Durant could do the exact opposite with the Knicks.

Maybe that’s part of the appeal.

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The Knicks won’t finish with the worst record we’ve ever seen in the league (not unless they drop the rest of their games), but the losing has already reached historic proportions.

With Saturday’s 104-99 loss to the Raptors, the Knicks (10-45) tied the franchise record with their 16th consecutive defeat – equaling the dubious mark set in the 2014-15 campaign under Derek Fisher. They had already broken the team record for straight defeats at home, which also sits at 16 after Saturday.

Kevin Durant would become a legendary figure in Big Apple sports if he came to the Knicks and helped turn around the franchise. (Mary Altaffer / AP)

Depending on how you like to slice misery, they either lost 24 of their previous 25 games, or 29 of 31. If that rate continues, they’ll easily own the worst record in franchise history – which now stands at 17-65 from 2014-15 – and finish with one of the seven-worst in the NBA during its 82-game era.

This means very little for purposes of the draft lottery. Per the new anti-tanking rules, the bottom-3 teams all have the same chance of winning the Zion Williamson sweepstakes at 14 percent. The only real benefit is that the worst team can’t drop lower than fifth in the draft, as opposed to sixth with the second-worst record, or seventh with the third-worst record, and so on.

To the credit of the Knicks’ spin doctors, they’ve been able to take the focus off the product on the court and turn the attention toward the summer. That has altogether removed pressure and blame from coach David Fizdale and the front office. A season proposed by the Knicks as their opportunity to showcase premier player development quickly devolved into a giant punt to July.

The Knicks head into Saturday night's game having lost 15 straight at the Garden.
The Knicks head into Saturday night’s game having lost 15 straight at the Garden. (Jonathan Bachman / AP)

Since Steve Mills usurped Phil Jackson prior to last season, the Knicks’ record is 39-98 with a 28.4 winning percentage. That’s worse than Jackson’s record as president.

But the allure of Durant, Kyrie Irving and Anthony Davis made it easy for the Knicks to sell their mission and the condemnation of Kristaps Porzingis. The question wasn’t why Porzingis wasn’t happy on the worst team in the NBA, but how can he not be happy with such a great plan underfoot?

Either way, the Knicks can no longer claim with sincerity that this was their plan all along. Prior to the season, Mills pitched the idea of selling a superstar free agent to play with Porzingis, a revitalized culture and the market.

Now all they have is the market.

Perhaps that’s enough for Durant. He can swoop in as the savior instead of being the superfluous signing in Golden State. The Knicks need a hero.

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