Don’t expect any summer getaways this year, but the Celtics and Danny Ainge will surely place a phone call to Kevin Durant’s people when NBA free agency begins on July 1. Whether or not Durant actually picks up the phone is up for debate.
Durant’s exceptional Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night was likely more bad news for the Celtics and any other team with a pipe dream of landing Durant in free agency this summer. The Warriors have some major financial hoops to jump through with Steph Curry and Durant – not to mention Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston – up for new deals, but all of the latest reports look good for Bay Area fans. ESPN reported last week that Durant is willing to accept less than a max contract this summer to stay with the Warriors.
“While sources stressed that Durant has not yet decided on how to structure his next contract, it is believed he’s willing to take less than the maximum he’s eligible for this summer in order to keep the Warriors’ core together and give them the best chance of contending for years to come,” according to the ESPN report. “Durant has said on multiple occasions that he intends to stay with the Warriors for many years, and he has put roots down in the Bay Area both personally and professionally. Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman have set up their business, the Durant Company, in the Bay Area. He has forged partnerships with California-based companies such as YouTube, Acorns and Postmates. In a New York Times profile this spring, Durant revealed that he is in business with Silicon Valley “super angel” investor Ronald Conway and consulting with Laurene Powell Jobs, with widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.”
This sounds a lot like the type of thing the arrangement Tom Brady has with the New England Patriots. Brady takes less money directly from the team so that the team can surround him with talent to win more titles, and Brady makes up the difference through other ventures. That’s likely one of the reasons the Celtics had Brady tag along in their recruitment of Durant last summer.
The only thing the Celtics can hope for now is that Curry becomes upset at the amount of attention Durant is getting during the Finals and forces the Warriors to choose between one of the two players this summer. There hasn’t been much to suggest that will happen, but then again these are pro athletes with sizable egos.
In March on the True Hoop podcast, NBA reporter Ethan Strauss said there were some issues regarding the Warriors and pending free agency. Via Real GM:
“There’s one guy in particular on the team that keeps saying the same thing to me, and I can’t say who he is, but he keeps saying, ‘We’ve got problems and it ain’t basketball.”
Gun to the head, the Warriors would certainly choose keeping Curry over Durant given that Curry is the most important figure in the history of the franchise.
The Celtics’ most logical route to take this summer remains drafting Markelle Fultz, attempting to re-sign Isaiah Thomas and pushing hard for Jazz swingman Gordon Hayward in free agency. It’s not looking like this summer in the NBA will be as whacky as the last.