NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant Could Be Headed To Eastern Conference, With Boston Celtics Emerging As Dark Horse Contender

The NBA rumors regarding Kevin Durant are heating up, with a new report that the dark horse Boston Celtics may be making a strong bid for the Oklahoma City Thunder star.

The story of Durant’s potential offseason move has often overshadowed his team’s playoff run, with as many as a dozen teams connected to him in some way. While the most serious contenders appear to be coming from the Western Conference, the Vertical‘s Chris Mannix wrote this week that the Celtics could emerge as a strong choice for Durant.

In the story, Mannix wrote that the Washington Wizards are likely out of the running for Durant, but instead, the Boston Celtics could be gaining steam. He referred to the Celtics as a “dark horse, the Eastern Conference alternative if Durant chooses to extract himself from the bruising Western Conference playoffs.”

The NBA rumors connecting Kevin Durant to the Boston Celtics seem to make sense, wrote MassLive‘s Jay King. He noted that the Celtics have a stockpile of draft picks and plenty of cap space to make a run at Durant, and he also noted Durant’s praise for the city of Boston earlier in the season.

King still painted the Boston Celtics as an outsider in the Durant race, however.

“Durant will have no shortage of options this summer. The Thunder still have an impressive roster and the Warriors want to add him to the best team in NBA history — a scary, exciting thought. The Celtics could have a lot of ground to make up in the competition, but own a 48-win club, a highly-respected coach, and enough flexibility to chase more than one star this summer.”

The NBA rumors have been hovering mostly around Western Conference contenders. Earlier this season, Mannix wrote that the San Antonio Spurs may be one of the biggest contenders for Kevin Durant. He noted that the team is already stacked for the post-Tim Duncan era, building their team of the future around Kawhi Leonard. Acquiring Durant would allow the team to withstand the impending retirements of Durant, Mano Ginobili, and Tony Parker without having to give up their place as one of the conference’s top two contenders.

Moving to the Spurs would also allow Durant to take some of the pressure off himself. In Oklahoma City, he has often been called on to carry his team, though in recent months he has talked about a desire to play more “free.”

“I think I’m playing a little more free than I used to,” Durant told the Vertical earlier this season. “I used to put a lot of pressure on myself. I’d think, ‘Maybe I’m not being a good enough leader. Maybe I should change my personality.’ I was always thinking what if I change this, what if I change that, instead of just going out and being me.”

The Golden State Warriors could also be a strong contender for Kevin Durant. Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical quoted league insiders who said the Warriors are “significant frontrunners” to land Durant, and have been preparing a plan for more than a year to land him.

But there is still one more pervasive NBA rumor regarding Kevin Durant — that he will stay in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are still believed to have the inside track, and will be able to offer Durant a bigger payday than any of the other contenders. If the team can make a long playoff run this year, it may increase the likelihood that he stays in place next year.

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