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- Kevin Durant has been widely speculated to be heading to the New York Knicks in free agency this upcoming offseason.
- Charles Barkley doesn’t believe it is the best idea for the perennial All-Star, saying that his thin skin might not be able to handle the media scrutiny that comes with playing in New York.
- It’s unclear how different the media Durant would face in New York would be compared to what he already deals with at Golden State, as the Warriors are already one of the most widely-covered teams in the league.
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Even though Kevin Durant’s current team is still in the thick of the NBA Finals, one of the biggest stories in the basketball world is where he will be playing basketball next season.
But even with the overwhelming success of Durant’s tenure with Golden State, speculation about his future has dominated much of the coverage of the Warriors this season, with many believing Durant is heading to the New York Knicks in the coming offseason.
While Knicks fans would undoubtedly be thrilled to welcome Durant to the team, some NBA insiders don’t believe it to be a great fit for the two-time reigning Finals MVP.
On a recent conference call with reporters ahead of the American Century Championship golf tournament, Charles Barkley called out Durant for his thin skin and questioned his ability handle the intense media scrutiny that comes with playing in New York City.
"Well, I’d say, ‘Kevin, you’re one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen. You also got some of the thinnest skin I’ve ever seen. I don’t know if you’re made for New York City,’" Barkley said. "I think that would be the toughest aspect. If he’s arguing with these teenagers online, he’s not going to be able to deal with that New York media."
"He’s a great person. He’s a great player," Barkley said. "I don’t think he has the mental makeup to play in New York. That’s just my personal opinion."
Durant has sparred in the past when faced with criticism from media members and strangers online. In 2017, Durant was all but caught red-handed using burner accounts on Twitter to defend his decision to leave the Warriors anonymously.
This season, Durant has scoffed at reporters’ inquiries as to what his plans are for the coming offseason, even though he has negotiated his past two contracts with the Warriors with the ability to leave the team after just one season.
It’s tough to say how valid Barkley’s worries are at this point, as we don’t yet know how Durant would handle the specific demands that New York puts on its players.
The trials and tribulations brought on by a more prominent media market such as New York are often cited as potential negatives to free agents used to friendlier coverage in smaller markets. But it is also likely that no team in the history of basketball has been as scrutinized by the media as much as the Warriors over the past few seasons.
There are some media realities in New York — such as the threat of an unflattering back page on the "New York Post" — that are different compared to other cities coverage of the NBA. Further, Durant’s relationship with the media in Golden State has come in the context of a dominant team fighting to stay at the top of the league. Should Durant join the Knicks and not turn them into a powerhouse, the coverage might come as something of a shock.
With the NBA Finals still in full swing, Durant has broader concerns to worry about for the next few weeks than where he will end up playing next season, but should Barkley’s warning ring true to the Warriors superstar, it’s possible his best bet is to stay with Golden State.
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