This summer, Kyrie Irving will be moving on from Boston after a tumultuous season. Fellow point guard Kemba Walker could leave Charlotte. That leaves the New York Knicks with a tough choice to make between the two in free agency.

But the bigger question remains – If LeBron James never made a return to Cleveland, would we ever think Kyrie was a better player than Kemba?

It’s a fair argument, considering Irving has played with one of the greatest players of all-time. That allowed him to go deeper into the playoffs and get more recognition than Walker. These last two seasons in Boston also put Kyrie in a much bigger spotlight, with much better talent, than Kemba in Charlotte.

Similar stats

Both of them entered the league in the 2011-12 season, and their career averages are eerily similar. The most glaring difference is the number of games played – Walker: 605, Irving: 508. Walker has only missed a total of six regular-season games over the last four seasons, while Irving has missed 76 over that same span.

The Knicks, who are +300 favorites (according to Caesars) to land Kyrie, could drastically change their future outlook by landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. They’ll be watching the ping pong balls when they drop this Tuesday. Bringing Zion Williamson to MSG as well as the most heralded free agent of them all, Kevin Durant, would be the ideal landing spot for Irving or Walker.

This KD-Kyrie-Zion trio has been in Knicks’ fans dreams since it became clear they’d have one of the NBA’s worst three records. Well, they got everything they asked for, and then some, by owning the league’s worst record.

But a lot has changed since the playoffs began. Kyrie has now become a toxic image to the public – even to desperate Knicks’ fans. Irving’s recent controversial comments soured everyone’s minds. And if that didn’t do it, his 25-for-83 shooting (5-for-27 on 3-pointers) in the last four games of the Celtics’ season sure as hell did.

Local flavor

Most of the Kyrie-Knicks fascination hinges on the fact that he’s from nearby West Orange, NJ. But it’s not like Kemba is some from some foreign territory – he grew up in The Bronx. Walker had an illustrious high-school career at Rice High School in Harlem. He even won a big game at Madison Square Garden against Simeon Career Academy and Derrick Rose. And who can forget all those big moments for UConn in the Big East Tournament at MSG?

If the Knicks are looking to make a culture change, Kemba is the guy they should choose this summer. Durant has been known to have snippy moments with the media. Imagine having that and Kyrie’s moodiness in the same locker room. The Knicks need some grinders in their locker room – not divas.

According to most reports, KD and Kyrie appear to be a package deal for whichever team they end up going to. For KD’s sake, you hope he’s seeing the same signs that we have over these last few weeks.