The Kevin Durant Sweepstakes is Set to Begin
By Michael Rehome
Six teams will get a shot at talking to Kevin Durant when free agency starts on July 1. Many more teams are interested in Durant, but he has narrowed down his choices to six.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Clippers have all been contacted by Durant’s camp for a face-to-face.
Durant is heading to New York City and then the Hamptons and having each team come to pitch him. Durant however, will talk with the Thunder in Oklahoma City before embarking on his weekend getaway.
Durant’s first meeting Friday morning in The Hamptons on Long Island will be with the Golden State Warriors before meeting with the LA Clippers later in the day. On Saturday, he will meet with the San Antonio Spurs and later the Boston Celtics.
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Gregg Popovich will likely be heading to the Hamptons during July 4th weekend to meet with Durant. It’s uncertain if that will make him more ornery during San Antonio’s meeting with Durant, but remember Popovich went to Los Angeles last summer to woo LaMarcus Aldridge and was successful.
Could Pop and the Spurs do it again this summer?
With the news of Manu Ginobili’s likely return next season and Tim Duncan’s opting in to his player option for 2016-2017, the Spurs are going to have less cap space than previously believed. So, what could the Spurs do in order to free up cap space to offer Durant.
The Spurs showed last summer that cap space can always be created. Similar to when room was created to sign LaMarcus Aldridge last July-Spurs traded Tiago Splitter- the same steps would need to occur for the Spurs to create cap space for Durant.
However, with Tim Duncan opting in to his $6.3 million contract for next season, the Spurs’ process to land Durant has become much more complicated than the path to clear cap space for Aldridge last summer.
Bobby Marks of The Vertical broke down how the Spurs can free up $26 million in cap space for Durant.
1. Renounce the cap holds of all free agents, including Manu Ginobili and Boban Marjanovic.
2. Release the $2 million cap holds of former first-round picks Livio Jean-Charles and Nikola Milutinov.
3. Trade Boris Diaw and Danny Green to a team with room.
4. Waive the contract of Jonathon Simmons.
Duncan could decide to retire, giving the Spurs additional cap relief, but the balancing act of cap space will become critical as San Antonio awaits his decision.
The Spurs would only have their room mid-level and minimum salaries to fill needs at backup power forward and center.
Durant could also sign a one-year contract with Oklahoma City and enter free agency again in 2017. He has played his entire nine year career with the Thunder, averaging 27.4 points per game for his career. The free-agent meetings taking place this summer could lay the foundation for Durant’s free agency next year.
The threat to the Thunder is real. Durant is said to be very interested in what the Warriors could be with him on the roster, and the appeal of the Spurs is equally interesting.
One thing that was very clear is that Durant is not looking to drag this process out. He’d like to get to a quick decision and move past the circus.