Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are headed to New York, but it won’t be to play for the Knicks.
While speaking Monday on WFAN, former Knicks star Charley Oakley ripped the team’s “toxic” culture as the reason for failing to sign top free agents this offseason.
“For the fans, New York is New York,” Oakley said, via SNY. “But for the players now, it’s just a different ball game. I mean, they don’t want to be around a bad, toxic situation.”
Oakley was involved in an altercation at Madison Square Garden with Knicks owner James Dolan in 2017, an incident that he said has left a sour taste with some considering he was thrown out of and later banned from the arena.
“I’ve talked to a lot of guys, and I’ve talked to a lot of guys representing too, and a lot of them are upset about what happened two years ago,” Oakley said. “People respect me. A lot of stuff that went on wasn’t right, and from the commissioner on down, nobody has tried to address it, but the players have seen it for themselves.
“They’re not trying to go to an environment where someone says something, and somebody is going to come talk to him with an axe, or someone is going to come and put handcuffs on him. They don’t want that kind of environment… I just feel bad for the city of New York, the fans that give their heart and soul and sweat and tears to come to games, and they have to keep going through this.”
The Knicks reportedly agreed to terms on two-year deals with Bobby Portis, Reggie Bullock, Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington on Monday after signing Julius Randle to a three-year contract one day earlier.
ESPN noted that while this likely isn’t the free agency that Knicks fans had in mind, the team is “gathering group of serious-minded, professional players” that could still make a difference.