Late Celtics patriarch Red Auerbach once said Danny Ainge is the luckiest person he ever met. If Ainge can somehow elevate the Celtics to true championship contention this summer without having to give up Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown in a trade then that statement will certainly hold true.
One of the easiest paths to make yourself the team to beat next year will be to land Kevin Durant in free agency. And while it seems that Durant to the Knicks is a sure thing, two prominent NBA writers with deep sources have been on it for months that the Durant and Kyrie Irving pairing could actually happen in Boston – not in New York.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst talked about it this past week on The Jump, and legendary basketball writer Jackie MacMullan talked about Durant to Boston back in December on Windhorst’s podcast. Here was their conversation.
MacMullan: “Let’s say that Kevin Durant wants to come to Boston, just for argument’s sake. Some GM said to me the other day … he gave Boston a visit during his free agency.”
Windhorst: “He basically implied that they finished second [in 2016).”
MacMullan: “What I’ve learned, and maybe you guys already knew this. I did not. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are really tight. They work out together during the off-season. They make a trip every year to an island … the Bahamas, and Jayson Tatum was hanging out with them this summer and the summer before. Someone suggested to me, don’t sleep on Kevin Durant taking another look at Boston, which I had never considered.”
Ainge and the Celtics have always had a connection to Durant dating back to Durant’s days at Texas. The Celtics had a strong chance of landing one of the top two picks in the 2007 Draft, and it is urban legend that Ainge would have taken Durant over Greg Oden at the time even if the Celtics had landing the No. 1 overall pick.
The Celtics were even fined because Ainge had had too much contact with Durant and Durant’s family at the time.
Nine years later, Boston was then granted permission to pitch Durant on coming to Boston despite the fact that they had no true superstar players to place him next to. Durant later claimed that he gave the Celtics serious consideration because of a strong pitch and comfortability with the Boston franchise. During this time (which wasn’t even three years ago), Durant did not even consider meeting with the Knicks.
At this stage of his career, Durant views himself as the ultimate mercenary. Where he goes, the balance of power in the NBA goes. Certainly, the Celtics have a much better talent base on their roster than the Knicks – which makes them an intriguing option for Durant once again this summer.