Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

Apparently, the mystery has been unlocked. We now know the real reason the New York Knicks constantly strike out in free agency. 

Apparently, the New York Knicks lost out on Kevin Durant because their practice facility is inconvenient. Yes, I’m serious. According to Bill Oram of The Athletic, in a series of interactions straight out of middle school, Jared Dudley thought it took too long to get to the Knicks’ practice facility in Westchester. The Nets’ facility, by contrast, was 12 minutes away from where Dudley lived. Dudley told DeAndre Jordan about it. Jordan told Durant.

“That’s why Brooklyn got Kevin Durant,” Dudley told The Athletic.

Dudley was quick to point out, though, that he has nothing against the team. “I definitely wouldn’t bash the Knicks,” he said.

Bash the Knicks? Never. In fact, far from being resentful, the Knicks should be thanking Dudley profusely. He’s helping them out. Dudley’s words are an enormous P.R. boon.

Basically, he’s saying: it wasn’t anything bad that drove Durant away. It wasn’t Jim Dolan ejecting Charles Barkley from the building, or banning fans, or constantly clashing with players. It wasn’t the fact that the Knicks had seven different head coaches in the 2010s. It wasn’t the in-progress seven-year losing streak that seems likely to continue for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t the spare-parts roster that even Durant and Kyrie Irving would have struggled to turn into a championship contender.

No, it wasn’t any of these that drove Durant to Brooklyn. The only problem he had with the Knicks was that darn inconvenient practice facility.

The main reason the practice facility was inconvenient, Dudley said, was because of the commute. This much seems fair. With traffic and all, New Yorkers will understand how inconvenient it must be to commute between workplaces in Westchester and Manhattan.

I’ve heard stories of some Knicks making it work. My mother once heard from her friend that Tim Hardaway Jr. and Cleanthony Early were renting an apartment across the hall near Riverdale Avenue in the Bronx. But we’ll give Dudley this one. The subway from the Bronx into Manhattan takes too long, and public transportation to Westchester isn’t quite reliable or convenient. Beating the traffic is one good reason not to play for the Knicks.

Here’s the obvious question, though: what have the other reasons been?

Why did Kristaps Porzingis want out of town? It can’t have been the chronic problems that have plagued the Knicks for years — what was it about New York? Maybe K.P. wanted a trade because — this is absolutely true — New York City is the only place in the United States in which you can’t turn right on red. Maybe it was because the Second Avenue Subway was taking too long. Or maybe he realized that the lines were too long at all the best bagel stores.

Kemba Walker is from New York, and this past offseason, he was a free agent. But instead of coming home to the World’s Most Famous Arena, he went to Boston. The Knicks “were definitely one of the teams I was looking at in free agency,” Walker said, according to the New York Daily News. “But I picked Boston. I just felt it was a better fit for me.”

Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant
Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

I can imagine. There’s the practice facility, of course, and the traffic, and all the other problems with this city. Any of them could have been too much for Walker to handle. Maybe he didn’t like those new parking meters that make you print out a ticket. I know I can’t stand them. Maybe it was the fiasco that is the city’s garbage collection system. Maybe the constant sirens were too much. Just like a mildly inconvenient practice facility, these all seem like reasons to pass over a city entirely.

And of course, there’s the Holy Grail of missed free agents: why didn’t the Knicks get LeBron James? He should have come to New York in 2010. Dwyane Wade could have joined him, and maybe Carmelo Anthony soon after that. The Knicks should have been by far the most attractive option. But instead, he bolted for Miami, and the Knicks fell short again.

Why didn’t Lebron come to MSG? Too many tourists? Superheroes in Times Square are distracting? The city doesn’t have enough independent bookstores? The subway smells bad? He doesn’t like the Knicks’ logo? He liked the old seats at Madison Square Garden better? New York has too much scaffolding?

Or was it that the Knicks were, and are still, in the midst of a systemic failure? Was it that LeBron, like many other free agents who avoid New York like the plague, couldn’t imagine joining an organization so plagued by losing?

No, that couldn’t possibly be it. So until further notice, if the Knicks want to remain in the mix for top-tier talent, they’d better take a long, hard look at moving their practice facility.

I have followed New York sports passionately for almost my entire life, since I went to Shea Stadium in 2004 and saw Jae Seo lose 8-1 to the Pirates. At journalism school, I once missed covering a Land Use Committee meeting to write about Jacob deGrom's last start of the year.