After the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night, most NBA fans (Unless you are a bandwagon Golden State fan) are looking towards the offseason. The biggest prize on the free agent market is Kevin Durant, who will have a plethora of suitors. Oklahoma City, Los Angeles (Lakers), Miami, Washington, San Antonio, Houston and Boston are expected to have the available cap room and interest in signing Kevin Durant.
In the past 48 hours, Butch Stearns of WEEI reported that the Celtics met with Kevin Durant's agent and discussed which players he wants to play with if he was to sign with the team. NBC Sports picked up this story, so I think that it is reputable and this meeting actually took place, even if it is considered tampering. This is fantastic to hear if you are a Celtics fans, but who could these players be? Lets take a look at some of the players Durant could have asked Danny Ainge to acquire.
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls
The 26-year-old Marquette product is one of the best two-way guards in the NBA. Since Derrick Rose forgot how to play basketball, Butler has become the leader of the Chicago Bulls, contributing with a unique blend of scoring and defense. The Texas native averaged 20.9 points per game (career high), 5.3 rebounds per game, and 4.8 assists per game (career high). A trio of Jimmy Butler-Isaiah Thomas-Kevin Durant could cause teams fits and become the best team in the Eastern Conference with relative ease. Butler has been linked to the Celtics since the Trade Deadline, where a deal was almost agreed upon, but the Celtics were not willing to part with Jae Crowder.
The Celtics would have to trade for Butler, which means they are likely trading at least one of the Brooklyn picks, Marcus Smart and perhaps Jae Crowder.
James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
PLOT TWIST. The 26-year-old California native has done nothing but lose since leaving OKC to go to the Houston Rockets. Last season, Harden averaged 29 points per game, 6.1 rebounds per game, and 7.5 assists per game. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden would have beaten the Golden State Warriors if they were still together with the Thunder, and that has to be somewhere in the back of Durant's mind. Reportedly, the Celtics were interested in trading for The Beard at the Trade Deadline, and Boston has the assets (probably) to pull it off. Danny Ainge has been infatuated with Harden ever since he traded Kendrick Perkins to OKC for Jeff Green, where talks initially started with Ainge trying to trade for James Harden.
Rockets management would undoubtedly ask for almost all of Boston's assets, but if Kevin Durant wants to reunite with his old teammate, the Celtics could probably pull this off.
Blake Griffin, PF/C, Clippers
This is a pretty unrealistic scenario, but just hear me out. Blake Griffin and the Los Angeles Clippers are coming off an extremely difficult season. With aspirations of winning a championship, Blake Griffin was injured and suspended as the Clippers' season went up in flames. President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Doc Rivers has vowed that he is not going to trade Blake Griffin or Chris Paul, but it may be time to blow the team up. They have not won in the playoffs, and our old friend Doc could be interested in a highly touted young kid in this year's draft to start looking towards the future.
Griffin would empty out the Celtics' assets, similar to James Harden, but a big three of Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Isaiah Thomas could win multiple Eastern Conference titles.