The Clippers will be one of the first teams to sit down with Kevin Durant on his free agent tour, with KD on track to meet with the Clippers and Warriors on Friday. And according to Dan Woike of The Orange County Register and Ramona Shelburne and Arash Markazi of ESPN.com, the Clippers will attempt to sell Durant on a scenario that would see him playing alongside Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan in Los Angeles, creating a “big four.”
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It has long been assumed that, if they were to land Durant, the Clippers would have to jettison one of their top three players for cap purposes. However, Los Angeles is exploring scenarios that would allow the team to keep Paul, Griffin, and Jordan, while adding Durant. Per ESPN’s report, all three players have been invited to the Clips’ meeting with Durant in The Hamptons, which will be led by owner Steve Ballmer and coach Doc Rivers.
Selling Durant on such a scenario may not be easy, and it won’t be simple to actually execute either. Even if the Clippers were able to trade J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, C.J. Wilcox, and the rights to Brice Johnson without taking any salary back, and renounced all their pending free agents, the team wouldn’t have enough cap room to offer Durant a maximum-salary contract. By my count, Durant would have to start at around $23.5MM in that scenario, and the Clippers would be left with only the $2.898MM room exception – and minimum-salary deals – to fill out their roster around their “big four.” A max salary for Durant is expected to start at approximately $26.6MM.
As the Clippers prepare their pitch to Durant, the Thunder’s brass is meeting with the former MVP today. However, since teams aren’t permitted to discuss contract parameters prior to July 1st, Oklahoma City is seeking a second meeting with Durant in The Hamptons next week, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links). Those contract discussions likely wouldn’t take long – there’s little doubt the Thunder would offer a full, five-year max – but a second meeting would allow the team to get the final word after Durant has heard pitches from all his other suitors.