Oklahoma City Thunder fans were understandably upset when Kevin Durant announced his decision to sign with the Golden State Warriors on July 4, going so far as to even burn his jersey.
“In talking with Boston, I was given the option of taking that pick or else taking Jae Crowder. I liked Crowder but I thought he wouldn’t get much of a chance to play behind Carmelo [Anthony], so I took the pick, which turned out to be Cleanthony Early. While Cleanthony has missed lots of time in the past two seasons with us, he still has the potential to be a valuable player. Even so, I should have taken Crowder.
“Anyway, for all of us, making mistakes are part of the learning process. … We won 15 more games this season than we did last season, something that’s not easy to do in the NBA. I’d be more than happy if we could make the same jump next season.”
A few things to unpack here: Dallas traded Crowder to Boston in December 2014, and he signed a five-year, $35 million contract in the summer of 2015 to remain with the Celtics. That’s one of the more valuable contracts in the NBA at the moment. The salary cap spike has led to a massive increase in contract values for free agents, and getting a versatile player like Crowder for $7 million a year is very team friendly.
Assuming the Knicks acquired Crowder in the 2014 trade and signed him to the same contract as Boston, he would be an extremely valuable piece. Adding Crowder — who averaged 14.2 points and 5.1 rebounds last season — also would have changed the complexion of the Chandler/Felton trade; none of the players the Knicks acquired in the deal is currently on the roster.
Rubio has had several conversations with Thibodeau since he was hired. But they haven’t had the time to really dig into the situation. Thibodeau was an assistant on Team USA in Rio, so now that the Olympics are over, the two expect to have more in-depth conversations.
“In my five years I’ve been there, definitely it’s the best group,” Rubio said. “Players, coaches, you put it all together and it’s the best we’ve ever had. The excitement is real. We have really young talent that can really take us to the next level with veterans that can help. And the coach, I think, is going to be the key and the difference.”
“The past is the past, but that No. 1, I think, will always be stuck with me. It’s always going to remind people and give them memories of how I played when I was younger. I was playing reckless, and I was just ballin’. I had raw talent,” Rose said in an interview with The Vertical. “Now, with the No. 25, I think you’ll see a more mature player. You’ll see the player that you saw toward the end of last year. More under control-type of game, and I got a lot more options now this year. That No. 1 will always be engraved in me, and it’s not going anywhere. Twenty-five is just a new step, and a new step in the right direction.”
The Knicks traded for Rose in late June, the first step in putting together a club that they hope can snap the franchise’s three-season playoff drought.