A tale of two teams
NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - July 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Night people will have no trouble staying up all night in places that never closes shop. They’ll never go hungry nor thirsty nor bored with lots of restaurants, bars and entertainment open until the crack of dawn.  With a 24-hour subway system and the Staten Island ferry operating until 2am, New York holds the unofficial title as the City that Never Sleeps. 

New York is also home to several major league franchises – NY Jets and NY Giants (NFL), NY Yankees and NY Mets (MLB), NY Rangers (NHL), NY Red Bull and NY City FC (MLS) and the NY Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets (NBA). Aside from the soccer teams that were recently formed and the Brooklyn Nets that relocated from New Jersey in 2012, these are successful New York teams who had won multiple league championships.

During the first day of the NBA free agent buffet where 48 contracts valued at about $3 billion were agreed on, one team slept while the other prowled the night and was rewarded with two of the best dishes available on the menu. Still drowsy, the other team did not exactly have leftovers but got some sort of off-the-menu side dishes that could turn out satisfying in the long run.

For months, the NY Knicks were the rumored destination of Kevin Durant and Knicks fans were excited of the possibility. Team owner James Dolan was also optimistic and said that the coming free agency will be successful for the Knicks.  Kyrie Irving likewise was linked to the franchise after a rocky relationship with the Boston Celtics. Yup, both players had New York as their final destination, not to the Madison Square Garden but further downtown to the Barclays Center and from news feeds, we now all know the figures they’re getting from their new employers.

Brooklyn to date is the 6th most valuable NBA franchise with an estimated worth of $2.4 billion, but why would KD and Irving chose the Nets which is less than popular than the NBA’s most valuable team at $4 billion, never mind the annual futility to enter the post season since 2013?

Reports say that KD goes to wherever Kyrie decides to go and another close friend, De Andre Jordan had signed with Brooklyn and it was said that they took pay cuts to be able to let the Nets give a 4-year deal to Jordan, who will be 31.  On paper, the transferees made the Nets an Eastern Conference superpower. We place emphasis on the ‘on paper’ here because KD won’t be ready to play until the 2020 - 2021 season.

A ruptured Achilles usually takes at least 8 months to more than a year to heal and history is not kind to players with this injury. Dominique Wilkins is the exception to the norm who had the injury in 1992 and still in his early 20s.  Coming back, even upped his averages after recovering from the injury.  At least 6 players found retirement from the game as the only option upon recovery although age was a major contributing factor for them.  KD was in his prime when it happened and will be 32 when he will hit the hardcourt on his 14th season. With advances in treatment, he could be like Wilkins and come back more focused and productive.

It’s too early for Brooklyn to rejoice since Kyrie is not exactly the unifying team leader considering the discord he caused at Boston and his ‘the world is flat’ analogy. Jordan has shown signs of decline and the $10 million he will be receive annually is an overpayment.  KD and Irving surely had their contracts structured in a way that they will be getting incentives that could get them closer to max deals.

The Knicks for their part, were tentative on giving a max contract to an injured player, never mind if he goes by the name of Durant. 

They missed on Zion Williamson, who was described by Enes Kanter as “Julius Randle with hops” in last month’s Rookie Draft. But they got the next best thing – Julius Randle of course. New York will not be too excited with this acquisition but they will be liking Randle because he plays hard every playing night. There’s some kind of an improvement on the Knicks as along with Randle, the team had agreements on wing men Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson plus guards Wayne Ellington and Elfrid Payton.

The NBA’s collective bargaining agreement had given rise to massive salaries and teams with money to burn are just too happy to spend on players who they think can bring them to the promised land of hoops.  Welcome to the world of basketball mercenaries where everything is all about economics and guys nearing playing obscurity hustle for the big bucks while they still can.

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