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Danny Ainge: ‘I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance’ to land Kevin Durant 07.07.16 at 1:12 pm ET
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Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Danny Ainge felt the Celtics had a chance at Kevin Durant. (Russ Isabella/USA Today Sports)

Since Kevin Durant’s Fourth of July fireworks on Monday announcing that he would be joining the Warriors, Danny Ainge has had time to mull over what exactly happened to see Durant slip from the Celtics’ grasp.

“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge said to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had some chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.

“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen.”

Ainge admitted he was incredibly disappointed when he got the courtesy call from Durant saying he was going to Golden State shortly before his Players’ Tribune piece came out.

The Celtics certainly pulled out all the stops trying to sway Durant into wearing green next season, bringing a cavalry of team personnel, coach Brad Stevens, players Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and even Tom Brady — Durant’s favorite athlete — to meet with the star in the Hamptons on Saturday.

Even David Ortiz tweeted at Durant to apologize for not being able to make the meeting. And upon signing Al Horford — who multiple times indicated him and Durant had discussed playing together — the Celtics seemed like legitimate contenders for the prized free agent.

“I felt like the meeting and presentation couldn’t have gone any better. I think we all felt that,” Ainge said. “I think it went as well as it could have, and we got a really good sense that it was going to be a really hard decision for him, but that we were a strong consideration.

“We felt like that was the most important part of the whole presentation — who he’d play with and how he’d be utilized. He had some good questions about that and about his role – how he would play, how we would use him. I think we did a great job of explaining and making a great presentation, and I think it was tempting for him. I think he is very, very excited about Boston and the history, the Celtics, all of that. I think he loved what Brad had to say. I think he was impressed with Brad’s preparation, and we had a really good feeling about it.”

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Read More: Danny Ainge, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Kevin Durant
Isaiah Thomas: ‘Just hope we get a few more pieces. I think that’s what we need’ 06.30.16 at 7:42 pm ET
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ROXBURY — Whether it’s Kevin Durant, Al Horford or Dwight Howard, Isaiah Thomas is just hoping Danny Ainge can work his magic to improve his team’s chances of getting past the first round and contend for a title. 

“I just hope we get a few more pieces. I think that’s what we need,” Thomas said Thursday while speaking to kids on a Celtics CommUNITY stop at the Roxbury YMCA.

“I think that would be the next steps for us, and then we go from there. I’ve got a lot of trust in Danny and those guys in the front office because that’s their job, that’s what they do. And they know what they’re getting themselves into. So I’m just trying to do my part with telling people how special Boston is. And then hopefully they listen.”

Despite a report from ESPN’s Marc Spears that a source indicates Durant has nearly made up his mind to return to Oklahoma City, the Celtics will meet with Durant’s representatives on Saturday.

“I don’t know if you can say anything to convince him. He’s his own man,” said Thomas. “I don’t know if he even has his own decision already and he just wants to hear people out. But we just have to be as real as possible. He’s a fan of the game. He knows the game of basketball. He’s talked to me about how exciting it is to watch us on NBA LeaguePass and things like that. So he knows. And we’re just going to do what we can to try to seal the deal. And hopefully we can get in his ear. And maybe he’s a Celtic. Maybe he’s not. But we’re going to try. And I’m going to try.”

Thomas left the YMCA to head back to Waltham to meet with Danny Ainge and the Celtics to see if he could be of any further assistance in a last-ditch effort. 

“It’s a crazy feeling just because years ago that didn’t even come close,” Thomas said. “I was worried about making the team the next year. So it’s a good feeling knowing that they I guess trust my word or anything, and they come to me for things that they need or they want me to do. Knowing that you have trust in the organization, that’s a great feeling.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Al Horford, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas plans to support push for Kevin Durant by pushing his shoes 06.25.16 at 6:13 pm ET
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The Kevin Durant "KD 9" shoe was released by Nike on June 20. (NIKE)

The Kevin Durant “KD 9” shoe was released by Nike on June 20. (NIKE)

Isaiah Thomas is not taking no for an answer.

The Celtics dynamic and personable point guard took to Twitter Saturday to continue his marketing effort to sell Kevin Durant on why he should come to Boston.

In a tweet, Thomas indicated he was ready to go out and get a new pair of shoes, “I need me a pair of those new @KDTrey5. They look comfortable lol”

The Nike “KD 9” basketball shoes go for roughly $150. The new shoe was released by Nike on June 20. 

This, of course, is not the first time Thomas has taken to social media to woo the would-be free agent. Just an hour after the Warriors eliminated Durant and the Thunder in Game 7 of the Western finals on May 30, Thomas tweeted a picture of a Shamrock with the number ’35’ next to it.

Durant would not be able to wear that number with the Celtics, as it has been retired to honor the late Reggie Lewis. Thomas, perhaps realizing this, removed the tweet later that night.

Thomas had no need to remove Saturday tweet, as it is just the latest effort in a growing move to recruit Durant to Boston. The superstar has agreed, through his agency Roc Nation Sports, to meet with the Celtics and five other teams (Golden State, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, L.A. Clippers and Miami) before choosing his final destination.

A week after his Shamrock tweet, Thomas said he would be “all-in” in an effort to bring his friend to Boston. 

Thomas is hardly alone among Boston athletes who would love to see Durant in Celtic green. Hartford native and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton took time after a Patriots practice in mini-camp to express a desire to reach out to Durant

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas wants Team USA to look at him for Olympics: ‘I wish I could get a chance’ 06.10.16 at 7:28 pm ET
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Isaiah Thomas . (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas tweeted that he has not been selected to Team USA this summer in Rio. (Brett Davis/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas is nothing if not honest.

He spent the last couple of weeks pushing hard for Kevin Durant to come to Boston and join him on the Celtics.

Now, the 5-foot-9 dynamo is making another pitch. He wants to play on Team USA in Rio. 

“I wish I could get a chance to play on the USA team!” Thomas tweeted Friday evening. “Looking at the history of it, I’ve never seen a small guard selected 2 even try out.”

Of course, the most famous “Dream Team” snub involved Thomas’ namesake in 1992 in Spain, when the Pistons’ Isiah Thomas was not offered a spot. Many theories have been suggested over the years. The most common involves Thomas burning a bridge with Michael Jordan when he led a walk-off against Jordan and the Bulls at the end of the 1991 Eastern finals, a move that struck a raw nerve with Jordan.

This Thomas has no such intention of burning a bridge. 

USA Basketball will have a 12-man roster in Rio. ESPN reported Friday that Kings forward (and a player perpetually tied to the Celtics) DeMarcus Cousins has been selected.

There’s a who’s who list of NBA stars who have already turned down Team USA, including NBA MVP Stephen Curry, LaMarcus Aldridge Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and John Wall.

The Celtics’ point guard would seem to be a natural fit to replace the likes of Curry, Wall or Paul.

Read More: 1992 dream team, 2016 Olympics, Boston Celtics, dream team
Isaiah Thomas reportedly ‘all-in’ on bringing Kevin Durant to Boston 06.05.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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May 30, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the fourth quarter in game seven of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant (35) scores against Golden State’s Klay Thompson (11) in Game 7 of the Western finals. (Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas isn’t going to give up on Kevin Durant without a fight.

Despite numerous reports and rumors indicating that Kevin Durant is staying put in Oklahoma City and not seriously considering Boston, the Celtics point guard told the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach that he has acquired the superstar forward’s phone number and will be hot on the trail this summer trying to convince him why he should be considering Boston.

Thomas told Himmelsbach via phone from China that he will “do everything I can to get him to sign.”

Durant, whose Thunder teammates blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors in the Western finals, is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. An hour after Durant and the Thunder lost Game 7 Monday night in Oakland, Thomas tweeted out the No. 35 (Durant’s number) and a Shamrock and then quickly deleted it

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported earlier this week that those close to the situation believe that Durant is most likely going to sign a two-year extension with Oklahoma City (including an opt-out after the first year), staying put with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka for another run at glory. 

Jackie MacMullan told WEEI’s OM&F that Celtics fans “can forget” about Durant being lured to Boston and signing with the Celtics. 

This week, FOX25’s Butch Stearns told WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan that the Celtics have been told which players would need to be acquired by any team hoping to sign Durant. 

But that might be putting the cart before the horse. Thomas must first get a hold of Durant and work his magic and charm, letting him know just what he would mean to the Celtics roster. 

“That’s who I’m trying to get,” Thomas told Himmelsbach. 

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Durant
Isaiah Thomas tweets (then deletes) recruitment of Kevin Durant 05.31.16 at 11:05 am ET
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Isaiah Thomas tweeted to Kevin Durant in the moments after the Thunder's Game 7 loss to Golden State.

Isaiah Thomas tweeted to Kevin Durant in the moments after the Thunder’s Game 7 loss to Golden State.

Isaiah Thomas had good intentions in his immediate recruitment of Kevin Durant after the Thunder’s Game 7 loss to the Warriors Monday night. 

Just about an hour after Durant and the Thunder fell, 96-88, to the Warriors, Thomas took to Twitter to plant a seed in the mind of the superstar, who will be a free agent this summer.

But the Celtics point guard quickly deleted his tweet to Durant, which featured the No. 35 with a Shamrock to the right. 

There are a couple of reasons Thomas might have taken it down, not the least of which is realizing the sensitivity of the moment, after Durant’s dreams of reaching the NBA finals for a second time came to a crashing end. The Thunder became just the 10th team in NBA history to lose a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 series and the first in the conference finals since the Philadelphia 76ers blew a 3-1 lead to the Celtics in 1981. 

Another reason might lie in another sensitivity. The No. 35 is already retired in Boston, as it was raised to the rafters in honor of the late Celtics captain Reggie Lewis, who died in 1993. 

Thomas is not the first Boston athlete to openly recruit Kevin Durant to the Celtics. New Patriots nose tackle and lifelong Celtics fan Terrance Knighton said last week during OTAs that he would be in the ear of Durant as soon as Durant’s season was over. 

The efforts of Thomas and Knighton might be in vain as ESPN’s NBA insider Marc Stein reports that those close to the situation see Durant signing a two-year max deal to stay in Oklahoma City, with an opt-out after the first year.

Durant will become a 10-year vested NBA veteran after next season, and is eligible to take up a significant portion (up to 35 percent) of any team’s payroll. Durant is currently at the 30 percent threshold. 

 

Read More: Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Durant, New England Patriots
Isaiah Thomas reminds us that Michael Jordan was 3rd overall pick 05.18.16 at 9:37 am ET
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May 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas sports his game face as he represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas might not have brought home one of the top two picks in the NBA draft, but he did bring a little perspective.

In the wake of missing out on the top two picks in the NBA draft, it was the Celtics’ good luck charm of a point guard who, after sitting in the conference room of the Midtown Hilton in Manhattan, reminded everyone that a very good player can still be had at No. 3.

“Man, the No. 3 pick. Wasn’t Jordan No. 3? Say no more after that,” Thomas told Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com.

Indeed, Michael Jordan was selected third overall by the Bulls in the 1984 draft.

What, of course, remains to be seen is how the 2016 class compares with the ’84 class, which featured three Hall of Hamers in the top five picks. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Rockets. Sam Bowie was selected second by Portland. Jordan went third to the Bulls, followed by Sam Perkins to Dallas and Charles Barkley to Philadelphia. Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley are enshrined in Springfield.

How deep was that class? Another Hall of Famer, John Stockton, was taken 16th overall by Utah. There’s also recent results to suggest that you don’t have to land the top two picks to come away with a haul.

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Read More: 2016 NBA draft, 2016 NBA draft lottery, Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas
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