Sleepers with merit in the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes


Kevin Durant’s free agency sweepstakes are close to being officially underway as face-to-face meetings with the incumbent Thunder, Warriors, Spurs, and others will take place this weekend.

There are high level implication scenarios in play with Durant. While the conventional belief is that Durant will hang in there with OKC for at least one more season, this summer he has the ability to make a pendulum-shifting move by possibly joining one of these teams.

The Warriors and Spurs are  clearly the big fish in the running. Both might be considered long shots for different reasons, but Frank Isola of the NY Daily News reported that Durant has real interest in joining the Warriors if he doesn’t re-sign with the Thunder. Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will do their due diligence by meeting with Durant, like the Warriors, offering him a chance to form a super team. Both teams still have some maneuvering to do in order to create more cap room, but their pitches will simply revolve around winning.

Leaving OKC would create shock pulse around the league at this point, but not if Durant leaves for a situation that provides an equal if not better opportunity for him to compete for a championship right away. That’s part of what he had to mean by making the best basketball decision in free agency. The Warriors and Spurs are the proverbial elephants in the room in that regard, but the sleepers in the room hold some weight too.

I see the Celtics as a fascinating sleeper for Durant. They don’t have the most lucrative offer in terms of their current roster, but they do have Brad Stevens, Isaiah Thomas (who hasn’t been shy about wanting Durant), and Boston pride on their side. Durant also has a known affinity for Larry Bird. The Celtics, like the Knicks, do have an atmosphere in place to ensure Durant a chance to be a realistic competitor in the East.

Even though I don’t foresee Durant being eager to literally follow in LeBron’s footsteps, the Miami Heat are another sleeper. According to the meeting schedule, Pat Riley will have an entire Sunday to himself to pitch to Durant. Other concerns with the Heat include the health status of Chris Bosh and the staying status of Hassan Whiteside, but even if Whiteside walks this summer, the prospect of a new Big 3 with Wade, Durant, and Bosh has merit.

Kevin Durant
(Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

The Knicks, who I thought might emerge as a sleeper, didn’t even land a meeting with Durant. The Clippers, however, did land a meeting, and as The OC Register’s Dan Woike reported, they’re going to pitch Durant on forming a Big 4 with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. The Clips would need to do some maneuvering to pull that off as well.

I’m not convinced that Durant would leave OKC for another Western Conference team this summer. As many have noted, these meetings could be foreshadowing for next summer, should Durant sign the 1+1 deal and hit free agency again in 2017. But the realistic sleepers for Durant right now should be in the East, where he can shift gears and contend for the conference and an NBA title right away.

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Martin is the Founder, Chief Editor, and Head Skills Development Trainer for Basketball Society. He has work experience in digital media and marketing, radio, and journalism. Currently, he does freelance work as a videographer and content creator. He has been featured as a writer on sites such as Def Pen, TV Film News, All Hip-Hop, and more. Martin played high school basketball at South Brunswick High School (NJ) where he graduated in 2007. He is a 1,000-point scorer at SBHS and an All-Middlesex County performer as a 3-year varsity starter. He helped lead SBHS to their first-ever Central Jersey Group 4 sectional state championship in 2007. Martin played college basketball at Eastern University, where he graduated (BA, Communications) in 2012. Martin was a four-year starter and a 1,000-point scorer at EU. Follow Martin on Twitter @Marsoaries and on Instagram @martin_soaries


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