What gives them that idea?
Maybe preliminary conversations with the Thunder star’s agent.
I have this on pretty good authority. The Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant. The Celtics do know — I don’t know who it is — but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron-Chris Bosh–Dwyane Wade-like way. Because that’s how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor.
Now, I don’t know if Durant’s told them that. But the Celtics know. They know. They’ve been told what group of guys he would want to come here.
It’d be quite logical for Durant to send this request through backchannels. It doesn’t mean he’ll sign with the Celtics even if they add his desired future teammates. How many teams received the same list of players from Durant’s camp? But it gives him a potentially more appealing option.
Durant is so valuable, teams will jump through hoops just to increase their chance of signing him. He’s well within his rights to wield that power to increase the likelihood he finds the ideal spot. The more good options, the better chance he has of picking a great one.
The Celtics have plenty of intriguing assets – the Nos. 3, 16 and 23 picks this year, swap rights on the Nets’ 2017 first-rounder, the Nets’ 2018 first-rounder, a loosely protected Grizzlies’ first rounder and potentially enough cap space to sign two max free agents this summer (if they waive the unguaranteed Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko and renounced all their free agents). But those assets just represent theoretical improvement to Durant, who wants to win now. Boston must prove it can flip the picks and cap space for capable veterans – more specifically, the capable veterans Durant wants to play with.
With that ammo, the Celtics could land plenty of players. If it means getting Durant, Boston should even offer more in a trade than the incoming player would be worth in a vacuum.
But it’s possible to see a route that leads to a quick roster upgrade and Durant signing. A longshot? Probably. But having a legitimate plan at this point would put Boston ahead of several other Durant’s suitors.
Of course, the Warriors loom, and I doubt they got this list. They’re already so good. The Celtics’ challenge is becoming more appealing than Golden State and Oklahoma City, and Boston is working from behind. But at least the Celtics know what Durant wants them working on, and they might have the assets to complete his tasks.