The initial list of six teams Kevin Durant plans to meet with has been known for a few days — the Thunder, Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Heat and Celtics. Notably absent on that list are the Los Angeles Lakers, who always at least get meetings with the big-time free agents, even if they don’t land most of them. Now, ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard reports that the Lakers are making a late push to secure a meeting and are confident they can get one:
The Lakers intend to contact Durant and his representatives July 1 and are confident they will get a meeting, the source said.
“I can’t imagine Durant wouldn’t talk to us,” the source said. “That would shock me.”
The Lakers believe they have a pitch that will appeal to Durant and other free agents, said the source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. With the ability to clear more than $60 million in cap space, they will attempt to sell stars on the potential of joining the Lakers with another top-tier free agent, the source said.
“We want to pitch guys on combinations, as opposed to just one guy,” the source said. “We’ll say to a guy, ‘Who do you want to play with? We’ve got the room to go get him.’”
Durant has said since the Thunder’s elimination from the playoffs that his free agency decision will be a “basketball decision.” He cares about winning a title while he’s in his prime.
The Lakers won 17 games this season, finishing with the second-worst record in the NBA. They have a promising young core including D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and new No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram, but adding Durant to that group isn’t going to make them a title contender. And if their logic is that they can get any other player Durant wants to play with, well, this summer’s free-agent class isn’t exactly deep with stars outside of Durant himself.
If, as expected, Durant signs a one-year deal with the Thunder and more seriously entertains the idea of leaving Oklahoma City next summer, the Lakers will have a better case. Their young players will have another year of experience together, and a deeper free agent class (including Russell Westbrook) will give Durant more appealing options for players to team up with.
This year, though, the only legitimate reason the Lakers have that Durant should meet with them is “We’re the Lakers.” And if that’s all they have, a meeting would be a waste of everybody’s time.