Anyone who has consumed sports media over the past two years is well aware of the increased talk of NBA free agency. These conversations began well before the period, driven by daily rumors of what the biggest stars in the world will do. As fun as this has been, and it has been, its future is in danger if the Kevin Durant-to-the-Knicks rumors turn out to be nothing more than a waste of the industry’s time.
One of the primary reasons it becomes news each and every time a reporter or someone with a platform links Durant to the Knicks is because last year’s version came true. LeBron James, like the year-long rumors tipped, chose to go to the Lakers. Undoubtedly, this has led to those in the media looking to replicate it one year later.
The Durant rumors have come on even stronger. Ric Bucher called it a “done deal.” Stephen A. Smith said he was told it’s 95 percent sure and a “foregone conclusion.” A veteran player DMed Colin Cowherd it’s 100 percent going to happen. Cris Carter was told Durant is going to go there. Bill Simmons is so sure he said to “bet the house” it’s happening. And several others have said Durant is “likely” going to be a Knick come the start of the next season. Pretty strong, huh?
Each time one of these statements or reports come out, it becomes news and the talk of the day. Even in a world where almost everything said is scrutinized, most of these NBA reports are well received and followed by widespread intrigue. Which should happen. But if for whatever reason Durant doesn’t go to the Knicks, there is going to be a problem. Sure, these NBA rumors will not go away completely, but their impact, well, that is another story.
Let’s take a look at the impact this scenario — Durant going elsewhere — would have. Next year’s free agent class is going to be led by Anthony Davis. If rumors emerge at the start of next season he is destined to go to Team X, is anyone going to care like they have? If Durant signs a one-and-one with the Warriors, is the next “Durant is going to this team” statement going to create this amount of reaction? Is a rumor like that going to lead shows on television and radio? And the stronger the claim or report is, the less seriously it will be taken. The future reports would instantly be followed by comments like the following:
- Yeah, we heard the same thing about KD and the Knicks last year.
- Just like Durant to the Knicks was a done deal?
- Durant to the Knicks was 100 percent too.
- Remember this: (insert Durant to the Knicks link)
It’s not going to matter why, either. Even if some report comes out that Durant was going to be a Knick but changed his mind, the damage will have already been done. Think about it, why would anyone fall for this again? They won’t. As soon as the readers and viewers lose interest in this topic, the coverage will quickly fade. If the consumer stops caring and believing it, not only will it stop being aggregated, it will also stop being said. Right now, at its peak, pundits know the attention they will receive by jumping into this type of topic. Especially the non-reporters, who are responsible for a lot of these. There is a reason we are seeing radio hosts and former NFL players getting involved. Again, we are only talking if Durant snubs the Knicks.
Yes, if these rumors are said by insiders like Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and Chris Haynes they will still carry great weight. However, these insiders do not say months in advance something is done or nearly done. If we get to a point where only their reports on free agency matter and are credible, there will be a massive decrease in these storylines. At least from the top outlets.
NBA free agent talk began to slide into the conversation James’ final year in Cleveland in 2010. But like his final year with the Heat and Durant’s with the Thunder, the conversation was much different. It was made up of mostly of opinions on where they should go and reactions to each word they say. Rumors and reports rounded up a much smaller percentage of the conversation. In the past two years, that has clearly been reversed. This is how quickly these types of narratives can change and will change again
The opposite will take place if Durant does, in fact, join the New York Knicks and makes all these pundits look like fortune tellers. If that happens, look out. Next year is going to be filled with more rumors than the blogosphere, Twitter, and Reddit can handle.
Oddly enough, recent trends have shown reporters do not lose much credibility after striking out on a report. And while this may not hurt individual reporter per se, the topic of free agent rumors has much more at stake.
For the sake of the business, let’s hope he does go to the Knicks. Plus, it would make the NBA much better. That isn’t a rumor, though. That’s a fact.