Calling it nothing more than a marketing tool, the New York Knicks have nonetheless deleted a game action photo of Golden State Warriors star forward Kevin Durant and Knicks rookie center Mitchell Robinson from their website after it was used in a ticket sales promotion.
The photo was included in a renewal drive for season-ticket holders. A few factors have given its use extra scrutiny.
First, Durant has a player option in his contract with the Warriors and can become a free agent this summer.
Also, counting recent trades the Knicks have made, they could have about $75 million in salary cap space toward pursuing a high-priced player, according to reporting from ESPN.
Don’t read anything into the use of the photo, however, the team urged in a statement released Sunday night.
“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. To be clear, it was one of several rotating photos on the website,” according to the statement.
Several of the team’s season-ticket holders went on social media earlier in the weekend to show off the images taken from the Knicks website, including the photo of Durant and Robinson.
Using an opposing player in a sales photo is not strictly against NBA rules, according to reporting from the New York Post, but Durant’s contract situation has brought about concern.
The Atlanta Hawks were fined for tampering in 2013 when an email to season-ticket holders mentioned “players who are currently under contract to other teams but who will become free agents [in the] summer.” The players were Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
Durant has won two consecutive NBA titles since joining the Warriors as a free agent before the 2016-17 season. He was the NBA Finals MVP as the Warriors swept the Cleveland Cavaliers last June.
Durant is averaging 27.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game.
—Field Level Media