Doc Rivers appeared on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski Thursday and he gave us some insight into the Clippers’ perspective on Kevin Durant’s free-agency extravaganza.
Wojnarowski asked Rivers—who is both the Clippers’ president and head coach—how he weighed re-signing his team’s free agents (Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and Wesley Johnson) with pursuing Durant.
“It was hour to hour, that’s how tight it was,” Rivers said. “Because we were going to wait it out. We were willing to take the gamble if we felt we were in it. And we were in it—we were in the top three, at the very end.”
This runs counter to the narrative that has generally been accepted: Durant was torn between the Golden State Warriors (his new team) and Oklahoma City Thunder (his old team), and the Boston Celtics were the one wild card with a shot. CBS even mistakenly reported Durant had signed with the Celtics.
Durant reportedly considered six teams in total: the three mentioned above as well as the Spurs, Heat, and Clippers.
“We asked, ‘are we in the top three?’ and they said yes,” Rivers said of a late-game conversation with Durant’s representatives. “My next question was, ‘are we in the top two?’…and they said no.”
Durant's top two, presumably, were the Warriors and Thunder. So maybe the basketball journalism populace gave fans of the Celtics (Rivers' old team) a little too much unnecessary hope.
The Clippers ended up getting 3/4 of their free agents (Green signed a one-year deal with the Orlando Magic), so they didn’t miss out on much by playing the Durant sweepstakes, and obviously it was worth some risk to have a shot at a player of his caliber.
The Warriors are the favorites to win next year’s NBA title (with 2/3 odds, no less). The Clippers are lurking in fifth, but it would’ve been interesting to see their place on that list if they had landed KD.
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