Last season a free agent cloud hung over the entire NBA as LeBron James pondered his next landing spot. A strikingly similar situation is happening this year in the league as it looks like a lock that this is Kevin Durant’s final season with the Warriors. The Knicks have long been mentioned as a top location for Durant to land. But Durant and his agent Rich Klieman prefer a more stable front office than one run by James Dolan, who was made something of a pariah among the NBA’s elite players when he had a public feud with Charles Oakley two years ago.
Two wild card teams have emerged as possibilities for Durant’s future, for two different reasons. The Clippers are one, as they are in Los Angeles and have a stable front office with Steve Ballmer and Jerry West running the show.
Another team that very well could be in the mix next summer as well is … wait for it … the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were the runner-ups in the Durant sweepstakes in 2016 and could be looking at a shake-up if they fall short of their championship goals this spring.
Say, for instance, the Celtics lose to Durant and the Warriors in the Finals. Durant could shift to Boston, in a Deion Sanders 49ers to the Cowboys power play, and show that he is the ultimate difference maker in the league. You can bet on where Durant may land here at MetroBet.
Adding to this Celtics intrigue is that Durant is quite close with Celtics star Kyrie Irving. Irving and Durant worked out together and partied with Celtics young gun Jayson Tatum in the Bahamas this past summer. Irving and Durant were also close during Team USA’s run to a gold medal in 2016.
All told, however, the Celtics are a longshot for Durant. They would have to do some major cap maneuvering to fit in Durant – including trading Al Horford and possibly Gordon Hayward as well.
The Clippers though, at this point in time, have to be considered one of the leaders in the clubhouse. The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently discussed the topic on Simmons’ podcast.
Simmons: It makes so much more sense to me that Durant would go to the Clippers than the Knicks. Because the Knicks are the Knicks. They’re horribly run. They have the same terrible owner they’ve had for the last 20 years. If KD goes to the Knicks, that’s just a dumb decision. It’s a dumb decision to go play for a bad organization.
With the Clippers you’re in LA and I think Durant measures himself against LeBron in all kinds of different ways. That makes much more sense to me to go into LA and to try to take LA from LeBron. All the entertainment, all the different stuff in there. It’s still a 40 minute flight from Silicon Valley. To me that would be the favorite in the clubhouse, not the Knicks.
Durant didn’t even take meeting [with the Knicks] two years ago. LeBron wasn’t even interested in discussing his future with the Knicks. Why are they suddenly a suitor?
Windhorst: Can you imagine just the back and forth, the real estate in Los Angeles of LeBron and Durant going back and forth? It is exciting to think about them playing in the same building. Like, Monday night’s LeBron. Tuesday night’s Durant. Wednesday night, LeBron. Thursday night, Durant.
I do think that the impetus for Durant to move is, ‘I need to do this on my own. Because the one thing that still sticks with him is he had to join this [Warriors] team to [win a title]. I think the only reason that New York makes sense is that if you were to win a championship in New York and carry the Knicks you would be regarded as one of the greatest of all-time.
Simmons: Hold on. The Clippers have never even made the Finals. Just want to point that out.
Windhorst: I know. But the Clippers are not the Knicks.
Simmons: The only way it makes sense is if the Knicks hire Rich Kleiman, Durant’s dude.
Windhorst: It’s not out of the realm of possibility.