Photo: Scott Strazzante, The Chronicle
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The Golden State Warriors find themselves down 3-1 in the 2019 NBA Finals, but if ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith’s reporting is correct, there may be a silver lining should the Warriors go on to lose the series.
Earlier this week, Smith said he’s heard that Durant will likely stay in the Bay Area should the Warriors lose to the Raptors. He also reported that Kyrie Irving, who has long been connected to the New York Knicks alongside Durant, is now eying the Brooklyn Nets.
“I have learned that Kyrie Irving has given every indication to the Brooklyn Nets that there is where he wants to go, not the New York Knicks,” Smith said on Tuesday. “As a result of Kyrie Irving… I have not spoken to Kyrie Irving, I have not spoken to Kevin Durant let me be very, very clear… If [Irving] decides to go to Brooklyn, KD ain’t interested in going to Brooklyn.”
Smith then said it would be down to the Knicks or Warriors for Durant, and his decision will be contingent on the outcome of the NBA Finals.
“The belief is that KD will either go to New York without [Kyrie] and convince him to come to New York or settle for somebody like a Kemba Walker,” he said. “Or, KD may decide to stay in Golden State. Whether or not he decides to go to Golden State, the belief is, it’s contingent on whether or not Golden State wins. If they win the Finals, he leaves. If they lose, he stays.”
Smith made the comments after the Warriors evened the series at 1-1, so very few were willing to entertain the notion that the Warriors might actually lose the series.
But with the Warriors now just one game away from elimination, Smith’s comments take on even more meaning. This is still just a report from unidentified sources, and Smith conceded he has not spoken with Irving or Durant.
To be fair to Smith, however, he did report prior to the start of free agency in 2010 that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be teaming up on the Miami Heat, something very few in sports media saw coming.
“I got a call last night from a source and I double-checked with another and they told me essentially that LeBron James and Chris Bosh are going to tag team and go together and join Dwyane Wade in Miami,” Smith said in June 2010.
Smith was widely ridiculed for his report, but was vindicated after Wade, Bosh, and James all signed with the Heat a week later.
If Smith is right again here, it would be the ultimate silver lining for the Warriors if they can’t pull off a comeback in the Finals.
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This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Kevin-Durant-return-free-agency-Nets-Knicks-injury-13962116.php.