The main prize of the 2016 NBA free agency period is Kevin Durant. All focus is on him, and with everyone wanting to know where he goes, maybe the information of his scheduled meeting order can help.
Being an Oklahoma City Thunder player since day 1 of his career, Durant will meet with the Thunder first, on June 30, just before free agency begins, probably making sure they’re giving him the right contract. It’s still a question whether Durant will be looking to sign the five-year contract or a 1+1, which what LeBron James has been doing these last two years, taking full advantage of the rising salary cap. The NBPA has been encouraging players to sign contracts that are frontloaded and declining, with the risk of a strike or simply the CBA falling apart the end of the 2016-2017 season.
Durant will fly out to New York, and meet with the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers on July 1. Much has been made of the Clippers being the team from Los Angeles Durant wants to meet with, and not the Lakers, but it makes sense: The Clippers are relevant to the playoff picture and contention. The Lakers? They might be heading towards another tanking season. The Warriors are listed as the number two team on Durant’s list behind the Thunder, for obvious reasons, although they might need to trade players in order to sign him.
On Saturday, July 2, comes the turn of the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics. The Spurs are in a similar position to the Warriors. A loaded team that could be elite with Durant, but will need to make a trade to open up cap space for Durant. The Celtics have a young team that might appeal to Durant, but they’ve been stuck at mediocrity and a bit above for the last two years, and seem to really need a win in free agency to take the next step.
Sunday, July 3, is when Durant will meet with the Miami Heat, the final piece of his free agency meeting puzzle. The Heat have a lot of question marks about how their squad will look like next season. Ideally, it will be with Durant, Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside, but that might be difficult to pull off, even if Durant is convinced by the lure of South Beach.
The New York Knicks and Lakers are still trying to get in on the invitation list, but it’s hard to see Durant adding more variables into his decision, especially not with two teams that haven’t made the playoffs since 2013.