Photo: Ezra Shaw (Getty)

ESPN’s Ian Begley published a story today about the state of the New York Knicks on the eve of a potentially pivotal summer for the franchise. The Knicks, of course, spent last season as a big sad joke, and even though recent Knicks history has been a procession of failed seasons followed by disappointing summers, the team has what looks like their best opportunity in a decade to reinvent themselves overnight. That’s because it really seems like Kevin Durant might sign there.

Basically, people at all levels of the NBA world are convinced that Durant is definitely, definitely leaving Golden State for Madison Square Garden. Here is the consensus Begley has come to after talking to players, agents, and executives:

It’s easier to find street parking in Manhattan than it is to find an NBA executive, player or coach who doesn’t think Durant is going to sign with the Knicks in July.

Some of Durant’s former teammates think it’s going to happen, per ESPN sources. Several of his current teammates have told friends that they think it’s going to happen, sources said. Opposing agents believe it’s a fait accompli: “Just a matter of putting pen to paper,” is how one agent of another top free agent in the 2019 free-agent class put it.

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Multiple executives doing their homework on the free-agent class, though, fully expect Durant to sign with the Knicks and Irving to join him.

So why would Durant choose to leave behind the most accomplished NBA team of the last decade to go play ball for what is arguably the most deeply cursed franchise in sports, especially when there are many better on-court options for him? To hear these insiders tell it, it’s because the only thing Durant doesn’t have is widespread respect, which he’d theoretically have if he won in front of the Famously Demanding Fans in New York.

One opposing executive monitoring Durant’s situation closely believes that the opportunity to win in New York—and push the notion that he jumped on the bandwagon to win rings in Oakland from the forefront of fans’ consciousness—is a pull for the two-time Finals MVP.

Remember, this has been the rumor hanging over this NBA season, thanks in part to Durant appearing to say “That’s why I’m out,” after fighting with Draymond Green early in the season. Durant hasn’t exactly put out any fires since then, even calling out Ethan Strauss in February for reporting a version of the same story Begley did a few months ago. Everything seems to be pointing towards Durant signing with the Knicks, and I can’t wait to see how James Dolan finds a way to screw that up.