Kevin Durant's all-time favorite player is Larry Bird. If he could have dinner with any five players, one would be Bill Russell. Durant even said, "the tradition of being a Boston Celtic is second to none." KD gets it. The Celtics don't need to sell him on the stories of the banners and numbers hanging in the rafters.
When they give their pitch on Saturday, the Celtics need to sell Durant on is his own potential Celtics legacy as the sage and centerpiece of a decade of dominance, similar to Tim Duncan's career with the Spurs.
With the Celtics, Durant would have the ability to play a role constructing his own championship-contending team and mentor the team's next generation of stars, while the basketball world stays enthralled with his legacy-defining battles against LeBron James.
If Durant signed with the Celtics, the stars would follow and they'd be in a position to build a Spurs-esque dynasty. He would get his choice of teammates this year, all without sacrificing any talent from the current roster. That is unlike the other potential destinations, all of which would have to trade away stars or key role players to accommodate Durant.
The Celtics ranked fourth in defensive rating last season behind their lockdown perimeter defenders, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Marcus Smart. If Durant brought Al Horford along, as he's rumored to have interest in doing, Horford would give the Celtics a superb rim protector.
With Durant in the mix, they'd have another versatile forward who can switch screens. This year's NBA playoffs showed how ferocious Durant can be on defense when he's locked in. Boston's already elite defense would truly have the upside to be the NBA's best.
They'd make their greatest impact on the Celtics' offense though, which ranked 13th in scoring and 28th in three-point shooting last season. Durant is a Hall of Famer in the prime of his career, and Horford scores inside, spaces the floor, and passes at a high level.
The attention they'd draw would impact all of Boston's existing players. Avery Bradley has had to take on a larger offensive workload in recent years, so he'd benefit from more open catch-and-shoot opportunities (he's shot 38.2 percent on spot up threes since 2013).
The same goes for Isaiah Thomas, who's even more of a threat off-ball than he is on-ball. Thomas has shot 39.9 percent on spot-up threes since 2013. Jae Crowder was shooting 37.6 percent on spot-up threes last season before two high ankle sprains limited his range. The Celtics are a better shooting team than they've shown statistically; Durant and Horford would reveal that, and enhance them in the process.
The Celtics would have the ability to play with small ball lineups, featuring their strong depth at guard, or play traditionally with two bigs, with Horford and Kelly Olynyk spacing the floor. The team would be built to adjust to any type of style in a playoff series, and have the talent level to step on the throat of the opponent on both ends of the floor.
By adding Durant and Horford, the Celtics would have one of the league's best defenses and perhaps one of the top scoring offenses. Without adding any other pieces this summer, they'd have the firepower to go to war against—and defeat—King James.
Then, with the potential upcoming salary cap spike, their new core could recruit more championship-level talent over the following years. It's impossible to project the amount of space the Celtics would have (it all depends on the type of contracts signed this summer), but with a number of movable assets they could potentially carve out enough space for a 2017 max-level free agent like Blake Griffin or Paul Millsap, or simply add high-end role players into the mix.
Nonetheless, the most underrated appeal of the Celtics is perhaps their ability to build through the draft. The front office has the ability to compile talent much like Durant's own Thunder did by adding Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka. With the two unprotected Nets first-round picks in 2017 and 2018, there will likely be premium opportunities to add more top prospects, in addition to the two potential young stars they already have in Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown.
These valuable assets, along with the rising cap, would give the creative Celtics front office the ability to read and react to any type of opportunity that presents itself to acquire players. The talent pool would never run dry with Boston's plethora of assets.
The Celtics have one of the league's brightest head coaches in Brad Stevens, who is equipped to adapt to changing circumstances and personnel. He's proven that already throughout his coaching career, as he always seem to maximize his team's abilities.
Durant, who patterns his game after Bird, would get the opportunity to play in Stevens' motion-based offense. But he'd fill the role they've lacked in a true go-to scorer. Other teams Durant will reportedly meet with, like the Clippers, Thunder, and Heat, run more iso-oriented offenses. Boston's system, like the Spurs and Warriors, is a defining feature that should appeal to Durant.
There are destinations with warmer weather and there are teams with clearer paths to contention, but there are no teams whose future successes will be synonymous with KD.
The Spurs and Warriors already have their defining cultural icons. The Clippers and Thunder lack the cap flexibility to add more talent, and their own incumbent stars are upcoming free agents. The Heat's stars are on the decline.
Winning is more important than anything, but getting credit as the leader means transcending the game and becoming everlasting. There's no greater opportunity to win and define his place among the legends of the NBA than in Boston.
It all sounds like a fantasy. Maybe that's all it'll ever be. But all it takes is the stroke of a pen, and Kevin Durant can begin writing his own chapter as a Boston Celtics legend.