Kevin Durant doesn't want speculation that he's signing with the New York Knicks to spread, and he made that clear in an explosive press conference last week.
Good luck with that after what happened over the weekend.
The Knicks posted a website for season-ticket holders, asking them to commit to renewals by Feb. 28. A bold move, considering the team's Eastern Conference-worst record of 10-45, but business is business.
Even bolder? The Knicks including a picture of KD in their pitch.
Seriously. They did that.
Knicks are asking season ticket holders for renewals by Feb 28 and using this image to get them to opt in. @IanBegley @SBondyNYDN @Schmeelk @TommyBeer pic.twitter.com/Rz3oPZnZMW— Paul (@Paul_HQ) February 10, 2019
Needless to say, Durant's inclusion in a Knicks season-ticket renewal campaign raised eyebrows, and the team quickly moved to remove the photo as tampering talk swirled. After all, KD very much is under contract with the Warriors right now.
"Game action photos are used all the time for marketing purposes, but given everything going on, we took the precaution of taking the photo down," the Knicks said in a statement provided to the New York Daily News. "To be clear, it was one of several rotating photos on the website."
Intentional or not, the photo flap is just the latest Knicks misstep. They've traded stars Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis in the past two years, and while you could argue the former was on the decline anyway, you can't argue with other facts. As the Daily News pointed out, the Knicks will post their fifth consecutive season with at least 50 losses, thanks to their current franchise-record 16-game skid. Attendance at Madison Square Garden is down, as are TV ratings, according to the Daily News.
So, yeah, the Knicks need some reason for fans to get excited about the 2019-20 season. Putting KD in a season-ticket renewal is sneaky and subliminal, tugging at the emotions of a fan base that would love such a superstar still in his prime.
[RELATED: Why KD's future is so difficult to forecast right now]
The Knicks seriously didn't think rookie center Mitchell Robinson, who also was in the photo, would be enough to entice ticket buyers, did they? The second-round draft pick has started in just 12 of 38 games played this season, and averages 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 17.4 minutes per contest. Step right up, Knicks fans!
Of course, KD's free-agency decision remains five months away, so no one knows what will happen. But the Knicks clearly see a future that includes Durant, whether they meant to announce that or not with this photo.