The 2016 NBA Draft came and went without the Boston Celtics swinging any major trades, and that left many fans disappointed.
But president of basketball operations Danny Ainge can make it up to C’s fans and then some by landing the big fish of this year’s free agent class.
Oklahoma City Thunder forward and seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. Six teams are expected to land meetings with Durant, including the Celtics, who long have been in need of a superstar.
Boston is considered a bit of a long shot — OKC reportedly is the front-runner to sign the 27-year-old, with the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs close behind. But don’t sleep on the Celtics, who can make a pretty compelling case for Durant to ditch the Western Conference and come to the City of Champions.
So how would Ainge convince Durant to do just that? Here are the three top selling points for Durant to come to Boston, plus a counterargument for each.
1) An unparalleled tradition of winning
Durant simply needs to gaze up at the TD Garden rafters to remind him that the Celtics are the most successful team in NBA history. Durant himself admitted he admires Boston’s love for sports, and he is well aware of the team’s tradition. If KD comes to Boston and helps the C’s raise Banner 18, he can enter into the conversation with legends such as Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Larry Bird and Paul Pierce.
But … Tradition aside, Boston never has been the most enticing free agent destination. Miami, Los Angeles and even Oakland and San Antonio enjoy better weather and nicer amenities.
2) A bright future
The Celtics boast one of the league’s best young coaches in Brad Stevens, a talented young roster and a wealth of future draft picks. They’ll likely have shuffle their roster to make room for Durant, but this is a team that could be good for a long time with KD at the helm. Durant also would have the benefit of playing in the Eastern Conference, where the only legitimate threat is a Cleveland Cavaliers team led by 31-year-old LeBron James.
But … The present is brighter for the Warriors and Spurs, who both enjoyed the best seasons in their franchises’ history. OKC also came within one game of the NBA Finals this season and arguably just got better after trading Serge Ibaka to the Orlando Magic.
3) Lots of cap space
The Celtics have one of the league’s most friendly cap situations and actually helped their cause on draft night by selecting two players they potentially could stash away in Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic. That means Durant can push the Celtics to sign another free agent of his choosing (Al Horford, anyone?), and Ainge can meet his demands. Essentially, Durant can construct his ideal roster.
But … There’s a better deal out there for Durant. If he re-signs with the Thunder on a two-year contract with a player option for Year 2, he can fetch a higher maximum contract ahead of the 2017-18 season when the NBA’s new TV deal raises salary caps league-wide.
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