All you need is a seat at the dinner table. And that’s exactly what Danny Ainge will have, as NBA free agency officially begins this weekend.
It’s not just any dinner table, though. It’s Kevin Durant’s dinner table. The man has to eat, and according to reports, the Boston Celtics will have a chance to pick up the tab.
Durant is a free agent. He and his representatives at Roc Nation have invited six teams to meet with them: Oklahoma City, Golden State, San Antonio, Los Angeles (Clippers), Miami, and Boston.
By the time you read this, there could be more than six teams. Perhaps there could even be less. But here’s what we know: the Celtics are in the mix. And by getting the invite to meet with Durant and his reps, they have a shot.
It remains to be seen just how much of a shot the C’s will actually have. But it’s a shot nonetheless.
Reports also suggest that Durant’s priority is to take on a contract that will allow him to opt out after next season, where it is projected he could make even more money under a max contract. Those same reports have Oklahoma City being the front-runner.
But if you ask me — from the outside looking in, at least — the idea of simply returning to Oklahoma City on a one-year deal is something that could have been easily worked out a while ago. It’s something that wouldn’t require any type of free-agent meetings with a handful of teams.
And if you’re arguing that this is Durant’s attempt to gain leverage in a negotiation with the Thunder, then I don’t know what you think Oklahoma City’s front office is smoking. It should be pretty obvious that they want him back, and would be willing to do whatever it takes for him to not meet with other teams. I mean, do you really think the Thunder haven’t tried to re-sign him yet?
Point is, even if Durant is considering a return to Oklahoma City, it’s not set in stone. That’s why these upcoming free-agent meetings are so important. Even for the Celtics.
Because, like I said, if you have a seat at the dinner table, you have a shot.
What’s interesting about the Celtics is, they have something to offer Durant that the other five teams do not. Ainge can literally ask Durant, “So, Kev, who do you want to play with? Because we can go get him.”
The other teams that Durant wants to meet with? Their cores are already in place. The Celtics have the ability to dish out two max contracts, and they’re able to find that other max-contract player in multiple ways. They can either sign someone else, or make a blockbuster trade.
While I was disappointed in Ainge for not pulling the trigger on a Draft-night trade that would have given up the No. 3 overall pick, that disappointment should also be met with acceptance of the fact that there’s still plenty of time to make a trade work. And the C’s still have plenty of assets, from young roster players to Brooklyn’s first-round pick each of the next two years.
The Celtics could essentially name Durant the unofficial co-GM. Let him decide who he wants to join forces with. Al Horford? Give him a max contract. DeMarcus Cousins? Give the Sacramento Kings whatever they want in a trade?
Durant isn’t the only one with options. Ainge has some too. Would it be enough to convince one of the best players in the NBA to come to Boston? There’s really only one way to find out.
You need a seat at the table. Which is exactly what the Celtics have.