The New York Daily News and many who closely follow the NBA figured this day would come: the Knicks have lost out in NBA free agency yet again, failing to land a star for the ninth summer in a row.
While this year's letdown was no surprise, it stings that much more for Knicks fans, who watched their beleaguered franchise trade away its best player and only homegrown hope in decades, Kristaps Porzingis, this past winter in a deal that was widely (and fairly) criticized.
The Daily News' own critique of the Porzingis trade was one example owner James Dolan cited of unfair coverage by the paper. Dolan was justifying his decision to bar the Daily News from covering a team press conference last week.
But the billionaire's childish behavior only serves to emphasize the Knicks' ongoing futility in contrast with their cross-borough rivals, the Brooklyn Nets. Today, it's not much of a comparison.
Not only do the Knicks stand to be even worse this season than last, but the Nets, are taking another step up the NBA's contender ladder, having secured commitments from superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving within the first 15 minutes of free agency Sunday afternoon.
"The Knicks...are a Ponzi scheme," writes the Daily News' NBA reporter Stefan Bondy. "They peddle hope, they sell hypotheticals, and they always fail at the task in front of their face."
Durant has long been rumored to be intrigued by New York, and the Porzingis trade for cap space, was all but explicitly about landing the former MVP and two-time NBA champion.
While league rules prevent teams from naming their free agency targets while they're under contract with another team, The Garden's aspirations were far from subtle. The Knicks projected confidence looking to free agency. They also acquired Durant's close friend, center DeAndre Jordan (who also on Sunday agreed to a deal with the Nets), and hired another Durant buddy, Royal Ivey, as an assistant coach.
So how did the Nets steal Durant from under the Knicks' nose?
The Nets were competitive, they were competent, and it turns out the NBA's biggest stars would rather join teams that can back up their big promises, maybe even weather some criticism from a local newspaper.
"[The Knicks] were arrogant enough to believe winning didn't matter in chasing free agents," Bondy continues. "They acted as if development and allure could be simply spoken into existence."
Sunday's humiliation on 33rd Street proved that the best move the Knicks can make this season isn't parting with a player on their roster; it's parting with their owner.
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