BOSTON — Kevin Durant(Kevin Durant Jersey) makes a rare appearance in Boston on Wednesday night. The Celtics probably wouldn’t mind if he came back this summer to make up for lost time.
Nearly nine years to the day after the Boston Celtics were fined $30,000 because Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sat next to Durant’s mother at a Big 12 tournament game, Durant will make only his sixth appearance in Boston on Wednesday night when the Celtics host the Oklahoma City Thunder (ESPN/WatchESPN, 7 p.m. ET).
It will be Durant’s first game action in Boston since November 2012 and, because of injuries, only the second time that he has played against Boston with Brad Stevens at the helm.
With Boston positioned to fish again this summer for that elusive big catch that could propel the team forward, the Celtics would covet the chance to pitch Boston as a possible destination when Durant reaches unrestricted free agency.
Scoff if you want — and most will — the Celtics are in position to make an intriguing sales pitch to any star talent that becomes available.
And that would include Durant, who might benefit from simply escaping a bloodthirsty Western Conference that’s compounded his quest for a championship. But Ainge’s desire to see Durant in green stretches back almost a decade, and it’s not just an assumption from him sitting next to Wanda Pratt at a Big 12 semifinal.
Those who know Ainge best swear that he would have picked Durant No. 1 in the 2007 draft over Greg Oden had the pingpong balls bounced Boston’s way. Ainge’s son Austin, currently Boston’s director of player personnel, wasn’t a team employee in 2007, but he noted in June 2014 that, “I was in the draft room, and they would have taken Durant. I did have some inside information there.” His story has been vetted by Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck.
Go through Ainge’s public comments over the past nine years and they are littered with (non-tampering) references to wanting to acquire players with the talent, skill set and/or potential of Durant. It seems impossible that Durant could be unaware of how Ainge has gushed about him.
It’s also hard to imagine how, if Durant elects to explore his options this offseason, he doesn’t at least give Ainge another chance to sit down with his family.