Kevin Durant's free agency officially begins next week, with teams able to meet with Durant at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday night/Friday morning. Word had already spread that Durant plans to host teams in Los Angeles (where he lives in the offseason) to receive pitches instead of visiting various teams. Now comes confirmation of what was expected; the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder are the first three teams on the list. From ESPN:
Sources told ESPN that the list of teams that get to pitch Durant directly will grow before NBA free agency officially commences July 1 at 12:01 a.m. ET, but the list of confirmed suitors for now features the Thunder and their two main rivals in the Western Conference.
The Warriors and Spurs, sources say, are both already planning to load a plane full of key organizational figures -- including Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for Golden State, and Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan for San Antonio -- to fly to an undisclosed location once free-agency season starts to try to lure Durant away from the only franchise he has ever played for.
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports has a more complete list that includes the Celtics, Heat and Clippers, along with some dreamers.
Durant's representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations with the Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Thunder, league sources said.
Durant's public and private criteria for the free-agent selection process have pertained to a singular focus: the chance to win titles immediately.
Several teams that have interest in Durant - the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards - could still find audiences with him, but appear to be outsiders in the process now.
So that list jibes in large part with what we wrote on Friday, those teams have been at the top of the list for a while. But to run them down, here are the main offers from each team:
- Oklahoma City Thunder: We've been here with you since the beginning. We have made the Western Conference finals four times; we've put a winning team around you. You love OKC. OKC loves you. We have Russell Westbrook and no one else can. We can offer more money.
- Golden State Warriors: We won 73 games last year. We have the most fun team in the league in one of the most fun cities in the league. We're light years ahead of the competition, outside of that unfortunate "losing after going up 3-1 in the Finals for the first time in NBA history" thing. You can watch Steph dribble a lot and then shoot, and be super close for it. Draymond probably won't kick you in the groin as much as he does other people.
- San Antonio Spurs: We have Gregg Popovich and great tacos. We're the best organization in sports and there are no concerns about distractions.
- Los Angeles Clippers: You get to live in L.A., you get to play with Chris Paul, and you won't have to have that pained look on your face when your shooters miss wide open shots because you have J.J. Redick.
- Boston Celtics: You like Larry Bird, he played for us a long time ago. We lost to Atlanta in the first round, so we're right there. Brad Stevens is a Level 50 mage.
- Miami Heat: (Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade knock on the table with their championship rings to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut." )
- New York Knicks: Phil Jackson won 11 championships, you get to play with Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, and the city never sleeps.
- Los Angeles Lakers: You can get your own television show and we put a parental lock on D'Angelo Russell's phone.
- Houston Rockets: James Harden. Also the Texas income tax thing.
- Washington Wizards: You lived here a long time ago. Also, John Wall.
- Denver Nuggets: Witness the beauty of the Continental Divide!
Durant is widely expected to remain with the Thunder, at least on a one-year deal, with Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook both free agents in 2017. The Thunder dealt Serge Ibaka to the Magic on Thursday.