NBA News 2014: Knicks Target Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant in 2016

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By Lou Ramon Aguila | June 18, 2014 4:28 PM EST

The New York Knicks reportedly have a solid backup plan, in the eventuality Carmelo Anthony bolted out of the Big Apple this summer, as team president Phil Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher set their sight on both Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant in 2016.

Reuters
May 27, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) attempts a shot against San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first quarter in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

 The Knicks are facing a summer of uncertainty with Anthony eligible to opt out from the final year of his contract and become a free-agent this offseason.

Jackson, who was brought by Knicks top-brass to rebuild a franchise desperate to finally win a championship, had already met with Anthony's camp several times, but the latest report on the issue suggested Melo's days in New York city are numbered.

Via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

"New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is leaning toward leaving in pursuit of immediate championship contention, and awaits the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets to clear the necessary salary-cap space to sign him in free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

"As re-signing with the Knicks continues to fade as his priority, Chicago and Houston have emerged as the clear frontrunners to acquire Anthony, league sources told Yahoo Sports."

Plan B in the Works

Jackson has been known as a wise tactician throughout his coaching career, leading the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers to greater heights during his tenure.

In his new role, many experts believe the Zen Master will calmly pull the strings one-by-one to build a championship calibre team in New York with or without Anthony.

Fisher, who is teammate to both Bryant and Durant, could be instrumental in the recruiting process in 2016. According to a reliable source, Fisher's presence in New York could certainly be a factor in luring Durant to the Big Apple. As for Bryant, head coach Rick Fox believed Bryant might end up his career elsewhere, if given a huge amount of money to do so.

"He only wants to win a championship," one league source familiar with Durant's thinking said Tuesday via ESPN. And Fisher's presence could help lead him to New York if he decides to bolt Oklahoma City.

"It will definitely be a factor," the league source said.

""If there is not a real opportunity for [Bryant] to win a championship there, the thought of him leaving may shock Lakers fans," Fox said in an interview with Larry King. "But I wouldn't put it past him going in search of one or two more championships. Personally, I think it's going to get done in New York. I really do. I just believe in Phil. I've been around him. I know Kobe has had his greatest success with Phil in a leadership capacity. So the reuniting of the two is not an unrealistic thought."

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(Photo: Reuters / Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports)
May 27, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) attempts a shot against San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the first quarter in game four of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
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