David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant's future in Golden State suddenly murky, and here's how that could be very bad news for Celtics

John Tomase
October 12, 2018 - 11:25 am

The Warriors are reportedly preparing for the possibility that superstar Kevin Durant might depart in free agency next summer, and that could be bad news for the Celtics.

According to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic, Golden State believes this might be it for Durant in Oakland. Thompson also provides his own reading of the situation, noting that Durant signed a two-year deal with an opt-out seemingly designed to keep his options open.

Writes Thompson:

I've talked to people in the franchise about this. Not for this piece but just through various conversations. Some I've sought out, some have sought out me. All of them have the same kind of undercurrent: we hope he stays, but wouldn't be surprised if he leaves.

The same franchise that was willing to dump everything to get him is now unofficially bracing for his departure. There is a vibe. There is a sense of "this is possible so let's be mentally ready." Of course, that makes sense. Who wants to get their hopes up to be crushed? But the hunches and guesses that Durant might leave seem stronger now than they've ever been.

So how might this affect the Celtics? Three words: New York Knicks.

Thompson believes the Knicks could be an attractive destination for Durant, who seems itching to have top billing, a la Kyrie Irving escaping the shadow of LeBron James in Cleveland. We all know the Knicks will have money next summer -- remember all of that Irving/Jimmy Butler talk? -- and landing Durant would make them a destination for anyone.

Would it cause Irving to reconsider his commitment to the Celtics? Stranger things have happened, and nine months is a long time. That said, if Irving felt dwarfed by James in Cleveland, he'd be setting up the potential for a similar dynamic in NYC.

In any event, let's take Irving at his word that he's staying in Boston. As things stand now, the East is wide open for the Celtics for the next three to five years, unless Ben Simmons develops a jumper. Durant coming to New York -- and presumably bringing someone like Butler or Toronto's Kawhi Leonard with him to join Kristaps Porzingis -- would alter the balance of power in the East.

It would be good for the NBA to disperse some of talent concentrated in the Bay Area (Klay Thompson will also be a free agent next summer), but it would potentially be bad for the Celtics.