WALTHAM, Mass. – Marcus Smart is no different than the average NBA fan this summer when it comes to Oklahoma City free agent-to-be Kevin Durant.
Durant, the runaway valedictorian of this summer’s free agent class, will begin to officially hear overtures for his services from NBA teams on Friday, the first day of free agency.
The former league MVP has a short list of teams that he’s reportedly considering, with the Celtics being among those to make the cut for meeting with Durant shortly after the free agency period begins. Others include his current team Oklahoma City as well as Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami and San Antonio.
Boston has had a longing for some of the top free agents in past years, but to be on the short list of teams for player of Durant’s stature, is somewhat surprising.
“They (Celtics) want him just as bad as the other teams that he’s meeting with,” a league executive told CSNNE.com who is not among the franchises slated to meet with Durant in the coming days. “The fact that they’re on the short list is a huge feather in the Celtics’ cap.”
Smart is well aware that Boston has an uphill climb when it comes to landing Durant, a player he used to watch when he was at Oklahoma State and Durant was starring for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Any team would love to see Durant; his type of caliber of player on their team,” Smart said on Tuesday during his basketball camp at Brandeis University. “We’re not the ones who make that call. We just sit back and wait and whatever decision that the front office makes we’re ready to run with it.”
Among those decisions was to keep the current group intact on draft night when there were a handful of potential moves that the Celtics could have made.
“He’s trying to keep this core group together and keep us together as a team,” said Smart who added, “It’s hard. Like I said, you have to give credit to Danny (Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations) for doing the things that he does. We trust in him; we believe in him.”
Smart, entering his third season, was among the player names thrown about as potentially being on the move on draft night.
I asked him what that was like, while still being such a relatively young player.
“To be honest, hearing your name in the trade rumors is a good thing,” Smart said. “Just because it lets you know other teams want you; that other teams are trying to get you. It’s a good and bad thing. Especially you been in a city for so long, you connect with the people, the fans, the community, the organization, you’re like, ‘dang!’ But at the same time, it lets you know you are a valuable person.”
A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN