Why Kevin Durant should end up on the Boston Celtics
Do the Celtics have a shot at Durant?
By Michael Pina
The Boston Celtics are a pleasant surprise. They currently sit in third place in a crowded Eastern Conference and have All-Star talent, a brilliant head coach, too many draft picks and a handful of young, evolving players that all combine to make the future look exceedingly bright.
The Celtics have enough cap space to max out two players this summer. They're sitting on a treasure trove of draft picks that include the next three unprotected first-round selections from the Brooklyn Nets. No franchise has more championships or a prouder tradition.
The future looks pretty awesome no matter what, but Durant can be the guy who takes them to the next level. This summer, the Celtics should be in the running to make a critical pitch (via ESPN):
But Ainge's desire to see Durant in green stretches back almost a decade, and it's not just an assumption from him sitting next to Wanda Pratt at a Big 12 semifinal. Those who know Ainge best swear that he would have picked Durant No. 1 in the 2007 draft over Greg Oden had the pingpong balls bounced Boston's way. Ainge's son Austin, currently Boston's director of player personnel, wasn't a team employee in 2007, but he noted in June 2014 that, "I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there." His story has been vetted by Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck. Go through Ainge's public comments over the past nine years and they are littered with (non-tampering) references to wanting to acquire players with the talent, skill set and/or potential of Durant. It seems impossible that Durant could be unaware of how Ainge has gushed about him. It's also hard to imagine how, if Durant elects to explore his options this offseason, he doesn't at least give Ainge another chance to sit down with his family.
Apologies to an aging LeBron James, but if the Celtics acquire Durant he'd be the best player in the Eastern Conference, and would instantly morph them into a legitimately terrifying title contender.
The 27-year-old is currently averaging 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He's shooting 50.5 percent from the floor and 39 percent behind the three-point line, with the third highest PER in the league. The only person alive who can look himself in the mirror and honestly say "I'm a better scorer than Kevin Durant" is Steph Curry.
Without the four-time scoring champ, Boston already has the seventh-highest winning percentage in the NBA, with a top-5 defense and top-10 point differential. The Celtics play fast, move the ball and rarely turn it over—relative to the rest of the league.
But throw a diabolical scoring threat into the mix—someone who can defend, pass, rebound and play multiple positions, as Durant can—on top of this year's Nets pick and whoever else Boston is able to acquire in free agency (Al Horford is perfect), and the Celtics would be unstoppable.
As fantastic as Jae Crowder is, Boston would be that much more devastating with Durant as its small-ball stretch four. Or, they can even trot out an Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart, Crowder, Durant lineup just to see what happens.
The possibilities would be endless with Brad Stevens calling the shots.
Durant has plenty of options, but Boston is just as good as, if not better than, any of them.