Kevin Durant is going to be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Based on how much attention this issue has already gotten, one can only imagine the amount of publicity this decision will get after the 2015-16 season is all wrapped up. The impact not only in the media, but also on the court will be felt everywhere around the league. Durant’s free agency will easily be the second-most important free agency the NBA has seen in the past 10 to 15 years.
While the most likely outcome for Durant would be to stay put in Oklahoma City, there are still a few other places that people around the league think the four-time scoring champion could land. The Washington Wizards have been the leading candidate so far, based on the already established All-Star guard play with John Wall and Bradley Beal and the fact that Durant grew up in Washington. Other speculated destinations for Durant have included the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, two teams filled with shoot-first players in the midst of the rebuilding process.
There is a good argument for each of these teams, but there is one organization that wasn’t necessarily on the radar early but might start to sprout up in the discussion as this season goes on: the Boston Celtics.
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Brad Stevens has turned this team into one of the most solid in the NBA, filled with young players who have bought in and are just starting to show what they can really do if given the opportunity. This young coach has instilled a defensive mindset in this squad, resulting in the team’s being tied for the fourth-best defense in the league with a defensive efficiency of 97.8, or the number of points a team allows per 100 possessions.
The Celtics have many pieces already that can be a huge part of a contending team: a strong, defensive-minded point guard who can efficiently run an offense in Marcus Smart, a two-way 2-guard who is only getting better on both ends in Avery Bradley, an explosive scorer off the bench who can work the floor and make his own shot in Isaiah Thomas, plus underrated names such as Jared Sullinger, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk and Evan Turner.
The one thing this team needs is that superstar that can lead them through the playoffs. Someone with experience who would be able to rival LeBron and his Cavaliers or Steph Curry and his Warriors. Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, has even stated that the No. 1 priority for this team is to land a go-to scorer who can be depended on night-in and night-out. The player that fits this definition almost to a T is Kevin Durant.
With this kind of team, the Celtics’ current goal is long-term stability and success as the younger players enter their prime. At this point in his career, stability should be exactly what Kevin Durant is looking for.
Though signing Durant would leave teams with no cap space to add another star, the Celtics have a plethora of pieces and picks that they could move around to complement Durant’s game.
The Celtics will be freeing up over $17 million in cap space by letting go David Lee and two waived players, Zoran Dragic and Perry Jones. Other moves will be needed, but it’s looking like the Celtics will be able to offer Durant a max contract, which would definitely be necessary.
If the Celtics can make a deep push in the playoffs this season and really draw Durant’s attention, anything is possible.