The idea that Kevin Durant might leave the Golden State Warriors for the New York Knicks in the summer of 2019 has been talked about for months. It became a realistic possibility when, shortly after winning his second straight NBA Finals MVP award in June, Durant signed a contract that would allow him to enter free agency in a year instead of agreeing to a long-term deal with the reigning champions.

Fast forward to the week of the trade deadline and those rumors have exploded. The Knicks sent shockwaves through the NBA by trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. While unloading multiple undesirable contracts in the deal, New York cleared space under the salary cap and gave themselves the chance to sign two players to max contracts this offseason.

The Knicks didn’t simply give up on a potential star in Porzingis that was unhappy in New York: they created the opportunity to pair an established All-Star with Durant—Kyrie Irving is the Knicks presumed No.1 target—who much of the league seems to think is headed to the Big Apple.

“When you talk to other teams, that’s what most teams in this league think: ‘the Knicks don’t do this (trade) unless they know they’re getting Durant. Durant is going to the Knicks,’” The New York Times’ Marc Stein said on the Dunc’d On Basketball NBA Podcast” Tuesday. “This isn’t just media scoundrels throwing this out there. This is what other teams are saying. They believe it.”

While most analysts and fans buried the Knicks for trading Porzingis in the immediate aftermath of the deal, league executives had the opposite reaction.

“In my discussions with rival team executives, I’ve heard from many more who praise the trade — believing the Knicks must have some promising inside information about their ability to lure the likes of Durant and Irving — than from those questioning how much the Knicks received in return,” Stein wrote for The New York Times.

“I can also pass along that the threat of the Knicks’ persuading Durant to leave one of the most dominant teams in league history has never felt more real to the Warriors themselves.”

It was just a few hours later that The Athletic’s Ethan Strauss, who has covered the Warriors for years, echoed the sentiment that those within the league believe Durant is headed to New York.

“Let us be frank, with the caveat that the choice lives inside the head of one guy who can and does change his mind: Insiders around the league think Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors for the Knicks,” Strauss wrote for The Athletic. “Most people within the Warriors either think Durant is leaving or profess not to know one way or the other.”

Kevin Durant Warriors Knicks
Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors passes as Frank Ntilikina #11 of the New York Knicks defends at Madison Square Garden on February 26, 2018 in New York City. Elsa/Getty Images

We already know that some of Durant’s teammates believe there’s a real chance that this is his last season in Golden State. Draymond Green mentioned Durant’s impending free agency in a confrontation during a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 12, and he was ultimately suspended by the team because he reportedly dared Durant to join another team this summer.

That incident came less than a week after The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, who’s also covered the Warriors for years and has a written a biography on Durant that’s set to be released in May, created a stir by declaring his belief that Durant will leave this summer.

“Man, KD out,” Thompson told KNBR’s “Murph and Mac.” “I feel like he is gone… It does have that vibe, like, ‘This is it. This could be it right here.'”

As the season moves along, the whispers of Durant eyeing the Knicks have started to resemble last year’s rumors that LeBron James would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2018.

Much like Durant to the Knicks, serious speculation that James to the Lakers would happen began around the previous year’s finals. James refused to commit long-term to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Los Angeles further set themselves up to acquire the NBA’s best player by making a mid-season deal that freed up even more future cap space.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe said this past summer that the Knicks would their plan their offseason around the idea of eventually landing Durant. New York did just that, acquiring free agents on one-year deals with hopes of having space for a max free agent in 2019. They created a second max slot with the Porzingis trade.

By tanking this season, the Knicks believe they’ve set themselves up for future success. They hope the worst season in franchise history is a precursor to the championship-caliber team that has evaded New York for decades.

Durant can team up with another superstar and immediately make New York a contender in the East. The Knicks’ first-round pick could be used as a trade chip to add another All-Star, possibly Anthony Davis, depending on what happens in May’s draft lottery.

Nobody can say for sure what Durant will do. He hasn’t addressed his future in the last week, having avoided the media since the Knicks traded Porzingis.

The remainder of the season could have a major influence on Durant’s decision. Perhaps winning another championship will sway him to stay in Golden State. Other teams like the Lakers, Clippers and Brooklyn Nets are much closer to winning a title than the Knicks, and they will all be able to offer him a max contract.

But there’s no denying that a union between Durant and the Knicks is starting to feel inevitable.