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Full Court Press: Danny Ainge will go all out in free agency, and not just for Kevin Durant, Celtics going Eurostash 06.25.16 at 9:31 pm ET
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Mar 16, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) works the ball against Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) in the second half at TD Garden. Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Celtics 130-109. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Will Kevin Durant and Avery Bradley be teammates next season? (David Butler II/USA Today Sports)

Remember the pursuit of Manny Ramirez? How about the ill-fated chase for Alex Rodriguez? Think back when Zdeno Chara was on the market in 2006. The Patriots and Darrelle Revis married for one season, and it yielded New England’s fourth Super Bowl title. 

Well, the Celtics’ dream of putting Kevin Durant in green next season has the potential of eclipsing all of those in terms of media focus and civic involvement. 

Danny Ainge knows, just from their reaction to the lack of trade on draft night, that the entire fan base is in a frenzy. The Celtics are in full-in mode to get their guy who could change the fortunes of the franchise for the next decade. 

This is like the summer of 2007. They not only brought in Ray Allen on draft night in the trade for the draft pick that netted Jeff Green, they got Kevin Garnett in a trade at the end of July. There is the draft. There are trades and then there’s free agency. All three factor in Ainge’s roster building. 

This summer could be similar to ’07 as Kevin Durant and Kevin Love are potentially on the radar (that is, if Durant wants Love). Roc Nation Sports, Durant’s agency, is not only calling the shots on Durant’s deal, they are sending the message that Durant wants a full supporting cast around him that will immediately compete for his first NBA ring. 

The Celtics have a lot going in their favor. They have tradition, a red-hot young coaching talent, loads of cap space and something L.A., Golden State, Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City don’t have. Civic pride and brotherhood among the pro sports teams. That’s why Rob Gronkowski, Bill Belichick and David Ortiz showing up courtside really matter. The Celtics should give Gronk, Belichick, Ortiz and even Tom Brady a call to reach out to Durant. Isaiah Thomas continued this effort on Saturday

At $27.685 million committed to salaries for next season, the Celtics are in remarkably good shape to attack free agency. They not only are a young team coming off back-to-back playoff seasons, they have more cap space than any team that made the playoffs in last season. As a matter of fact, only the Sixers and Lakers, the two worst teams in the NBA last season, have less money committed to salary for the 2016-17 season. 

Of the teams pursuing Durant (Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Celtics, Thunder, Heat), only the Celtics could pull off two max-deal free agent signings. There’s Durant, Dwight Howard, DeMar DeRozan, Luol Deng and Al Horford among others. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2016 NBA free agency, Alex Rodriguez, Ante Zizic, Bill Belichick
Isaiah Thomas plans to support push for Kevin Durant by pushing his shoes 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
Report: Celtics on shortlist of teams Kevin Durant will meet with in free agency at 12:26 am ET
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Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

So you’re saying there’s a chance?

The Celtics may not be frontrunners in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes, but they’ll at least get an audience.

According to Yahoo NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics and other interested clubs will travel to a central location to meet with Durant and his representatives from Roc Nation Sports starting on July 1.

The other teams that Durant will meet are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and his incumbent Thunder, according to the report.

Oklahoma City remains the favorite to retain Durant, since it can offer him a two-year deal with an opt-out that makes him a free agent again next offseason. The Warriors are also considered strong contenders if he wants to join Steph Curry and Klay Thompson to build the league’s next super team.

But the Celtics at least have a seat at the table, which is more than interested clubs like the Lakers, Nuggets, Knicks, Rockets, and Durant’s hometown Wizards can say. The C’s can sell Durant on their cap space, as well as the presence of coach Brad Stevens on one of the better up-and-coming teams in the relatively weak East, which could provide a clearer path to the Finals than the loaded West, even with the defending champions from Cleveland and LeBron James standing in the way.

Durant, 27, is a seven-time All-Star and former MVP who led the Thunder within a win of their second NBA Finals this season. He averaged just over 28 points a game.

According to the Yahoo report, he’d like to decide on his future by July 9, when he begins a publicity tour in the Far East.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Celtics rumors, Danny Ainge, Kevin Durant
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
Butch Stearns on D&C: Kevin Durant’s representatives have let Celtics know which players he wants prospective teams to acquire 05.31.16 at 11:16 am ET
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D&C guest hosts discuss Kevin Durant

With Kevin Durant’s season ending Monday night courtesy of the defending champion Warriors’ Game 7 win over the Thunder in the Western Conference finals, the speculation about Durant’s future is set to take off.

There have been rumors that the Celtics will make a push at the pending free agent. If Boston is to land Durant, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge might have to start by looking into acquiring some auxiliary pieces first.

According to Butch Stearns, during an appearance as a guest host on WEEI Monday morning, Durant’s people have informed the C’s who those additional players are.

“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 [James]-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,” Stearns said.

“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.”

Considering Durant could make more money with Oklahoma City — around $30 million per season — than anywhere else, he would need more incentive to leave. Perhaps an easier path to the NBA Finals would be one such appeal.

Said Stearns: “Why would he come here? If I were him? Because I don’t have to deal with the West anymore. I only have to beat LeBron [and the Cavaliers].”

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Isaiah Thomas tweets (then deletes) recruitment of Kevin Durant 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
Terrance Knighton continues to recruit Kevin Durant to the Celtics: ‘I’ll be in his ear a lot, trust me’ 05.26.16 at 2:47 pm ET
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Terrance Knighton isn't giving up on Kevin Durant coming to Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Terrance Knighton isn’t giving up on Kevin Durant coming to Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

FOXBORO — Terrance Knighton is busy learning the playbook for the Patriots in their spring practices, workouts and OTAs.

But when he’s not in the playbook, he’s planning out different ways of recruiting Kevin Durant to the Celtics.

Apparently, Knighton didn’t hear Jackie MacMullan on OM&F on Tuesday, throwing cold water on the idea of Durant actually coming to Boston.

She said Celtics fans “can forget about Durant” leaving Oklahoma City for Boston.

That’s not going to keep the big nose tackle, a long-time Celtics fan from Hartford, from trying. He is close friends with the Thunder superstar.

“I’m leaving him alone right now, letting him finished it up. I love how he’s playing. I hope he wins it. I kind of hope he doesn’t,” Knighton said of Durant, who entered Thursday’s Game 5 in Oakland leading Steph Curry and the Warriors, 3 games to 1.

“As soon as the season’s over, if he’s hoisting the trophy or not, I’ll definitely be texting him every day, calling him, flying down to [Oklahoma City]. I’ll be in his ear a lot, trust me.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Durant, New England Patriots, Oklahoma City Thunder
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