The New York Knicks used an image of rookie center Mitchell Robinson playing alongside the Golden State Warriors' Kevin Durant in a pitch to season-ticket holders, then deleted the picture to avoid the perception that the organization had an ulterior motive in including Durant, who will be a 2019 free agent, in the pitch.
"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," the Knicks said in a statement Sunday night. "To be clear, it was one of several rotating photos on the website."
It is not unheard of for teams to use stars from opposing teams in marketing material. The Knicks, though, have been closely linked to Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, in free agency. The association caused a stir when a Knicks season-ticket holder pointed out the photo in a social media post.
The photo was part of a pitch to season-ticket holders to renew their packages for the 2019-20 season. It included a link to learn more about renewal information. The deadline for season-ticket renewals is later this month, and the Knicks (10-45) have tied a single-season franchise record with 16 consecutive losses.
New York hopes to turn things around quickly, beginning in the offseason. The Knicks will likely have a high pick in the 2019 NBA draft and project to have roughly $70 million in cap space this summer -- enough for two max contracts.
Some close to Durant see New York as a possible landing spot for the back-to-back NBA Finals MVP if he chooses to leave the Warriors, according to league sources.