Boston Celtics rumors link the team to Kevin Durant again. Now comes word that the Celtics will “make a run” at Durant as soon as the NBA offseason begins.
A report from Yahoo! Sports makes this claim following the Celtics getting eliminated from the 2016 NBA Playoffs. It may have been the worst-kept secret in the NBA this year, as it may seem obvious that the Celtics could badly use a player like Kevin Durant on offense. NBA analyst Chris Mannix speaks in-depth about how team president Danny Ainge will attempt to lure Durant.
“Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it. Durant will be 28 in September, and the former MVP isn’t interested in hearing what a team could someday become. He wants to win now, which is why Golden State and San Antonio expect to be appealing, why Oklahoma City is still very much in play.”
So what makes these Boston Celtics rumors different from all the rest? There are three main components to that logic. The Celtics have the money to sign a free agent to a max deal, the team is going to be working with short-term goals in mind during the coming NBA offseason, and the early playoff exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks may have created some desperation in the Boston front office. None of it guarantees that Durant will want to sign with the Celtics when he is presented with the opportunity, but it gives the franchise added incentive to make a “hard sell.”
The Celtics have just about $28 million in committed salaries for the 2016-17 NBA season. With the NBA salary cap expected to see another increase, it would actually give the Celtics enough cap space to offer two max deals in free agency. That would require declining team options on deals with Jonas Jerebko and Amir Johnson, but a reality is that those two players might not work into the future plans. Other unrestricted free agents not under contract are Jae Crowder, David Lee, Evan Turner, Perry Jones, and Zoran Dragic.
Roster pieces that work to the advantage of these Boston Celtics rumors are Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk, Terry Rozier, and James Young being locked up for at least two years each. Tyler Zeller and Jared Sullinger are restricted free agents, though, presenting the front office with some difficult choices. If Danny Ainge decides to offer Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger new deals, it will eat up a lot of the vacant salary cap room.
One asset that doesn’t get discussed enough is the lottery pick that the Celtics have in the 2016 NBA Draft. That pick once belonged to the Brooklyn Nets, but is now in possession of Ainge and the Celtics. The team has the third best odds to secure the No. 1 pick in the draft, but also good odds to receive either No. 2 or No. 3 when the NBA Draft Lottery is held. This guarantees that another young and inexpensive player will be joining the roster very soon in Boston. Wouldn’t Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram look good in green?
A component working against the Celtics is how well the Oklahoma City Thunder has played this postseason. If OKC can find a way to make it back to the NBA Finals and win a championship, it would become extremely difficult to pry Kevin Durant away from that city. Winning a title can change everything, but failing to get back to the NBA Finals could be equally disastrous for OKC. Fans should expect many Boston Celtics rumors this offseason, especially after the early exit from the playoffs. The chatter isn’t going to go away until free agents begin signing in July.
[Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]