LA Clippers make their pitch to free agent Kevin Durant, leave with cautious optimism

first_imgThe meeting lasted more than two-and-a-half hours, some reports saying as many as four, with the team making a basketball-centric pitch, highlighting how the Clippers would use the four-time scoring champion and 2014 league MVP in their pursuit of the team’s first championship. Ballmer, Rivers, Griffin and Jordan were joined by other basketball operations executives, including Lawrence Frank. All-Star point guard Chris Paul was invited to the meeting, but he was unable to get to New York in time from a family vacation in Spain. Paul has been in contact with Durant, though. The meeting went well enough that the Clippers left with some cautious optimism after leaving a strong impression on Durant. Jordan and Durant are longtime friends who have vacationed together.The Clippers could sign Durant in a number of different ways, namely by stripping their entire roster to pair him with their “Big Three” and a slew of minimum contracts or creating space by trading one of their stars to open salary cap space. Durant is expected to meet with San Antonio, Boston and Miami (and the Thunder a second time) this weekend. The Clippers’ meeting could also act as a primer for free agency in 2017 when Durant, if he signs a one-year deal with a player option, can re-enter the market when the salary cap increases again and his earning power has increased after another season in the league. While the Clippers were busy wooing Durant, their primary fallback plan at small forward, Jeff Green, agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal with the Orlando Magic. Green, who met with members of the Clippers’ brass Thursday in Miami, was acquired at the trade deadline last season for Lance Stephenson and a protected future first-round pick.Green, 29, played 33 games for the Clippers. While the Clippers await word from Durant on his decision, other teams are free to pounce on their top free agents, Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. On Friday, Crawford fielded calls from Orlando, Dallas and Philadelphia. Austin Rivers was scheduled to speak with representatives from the New York Knicks. Both players are expected to earn significant raises, no matter who they sign with. The Clippers, for their part, have been relatively silent outside of their meeting with Durant, though their interest in Luol Deng was reported. Otherwise, the Clippers, like every team in the Durant sweepstakes, waited and hoped for the best.The Clippers took their shot Friday, and soon, they’ll know if they connected. Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, Coach Doc Rivers, forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan were in the room Friday night in the Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y., helping try and pitch the NBA’s top free agent on a notion that would have been ridiculous a decade ago.“Come to the Clippers. It’s good here. The future will be better.”The fact they were able to share this message, in a way, was a victory for an organization that’s historically been defined by its failures. The incumbent Oklahoma City Thunder got their chance Thursday night when the negotiating window opened. Friday morning belonged to the 73-win Golden State Warriors. Then, captured by the paparazzi with Starbucks beverages in hand on their way in, the Clippers got their shot. center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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