Last summer, the Phoenix Suns were on the verge of signing star free agent LaMarcus Aldridge. But Aldridge hadn't completed his meetings. He had one more, with Pat Riley and the Miami Heat. That sit-down with Riley changed his decision from the Suns to the San Antonio Spurs.
Here's Adrian Wojnarowski recalling the story to Suns general manager Ryan McDonough on a recent edition of The Vertical Podcast:
"He had gone to bed after your presentation in a 36 or 48 window until he made his decision, he thought he was going to Phoenix. Then there was a dinner with Pat Riley. Miami didn't really have cap space for him but Pat was able to get in there because he's Pat Riley. He was talking about sacrificing among great players and winning a championship. He talked about what Chris Bosh did in Miami and I think he was really trying to line LaMarcus up for this summer. But regardless, it swayed his thoughts back to San Antonio, where obviously there's no one more formidable to go in free agency than them. If he had not gone to Miami that night before, he might've picked the Suns."
Sounds a little familiar. The Heat don't have much of a chance at Durant this summer, so Riley will probably be setting himself up to sign Durant next year during his Sunday meeting with Durant.
But how will he go about it? Will Riley attempt to influence Durant to go back to Thunder and "finish what he started" for one year and the reevaluate? Or will Riley talk about togetherness like he did with Aldridge? If that happens, it probably only further illuminates what the Celtics, Warriors, or Spurs are proposing.
But will Riley actually take that approach? If Riley wants to set the Heat up for a run at Durant in 2017, then the former pitch seems more likely: do everything possible to push Durant back to the Thunder for one year.
Plus, Riley and Danny Ainge don't exactly see eye to eye.
Remember when Riley told Ainge to "shut up" back in 2013?
Heat prez Pat Riley tells Celtics' Ainge to shut up
Miami Heat president Pat Riley on Friday forcefully responded to criticism leveled against LeBron James by Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge.
"Danny Ainge needs to shut the f--- up and manage his own team," Riley said in a statement released through a Heat spokesman. "He was the biggest whiner going when he was playing and I know that because I coached against him."
Ainge said he was at a loss to explain why Riley should have gotten into such a lather in the first place.
"I stand by what I said. That's all. I don't care about Pat Riley. He can say whatever he wants," Ainge said in the runway shortly before Friday night's game against Atlanta.
Ainge couldn't let it go without one final shot at Riley.
"I don't want to mess up his Armani suits and all that hair goop. It would be way too expensive for me," he said.
Roc Nation wanted Durant to schedule meetings with the Nets and Knicks, but he refused because he simply cares about winning and not the limelight. Durant is certainly an independent thinker, so maybe Riley's aggressive, manipulative approach will work in Boston's favor—if it has any impact at all.
But there's no denying the parallels. There was a lot of momentum in Phoenix's favor at this time last year. Just like there appears to be with the Celtics in the Durant sweepstakes.
Maybe the ending will be different this time around.