Danny Ainge said he “felt like we had a real chance” at landing Kevin Durant after he and the Celtics contingent met with him Saturday, but he told the Boston Herald he wasn’t surprised Durant chose the Golden State Warriors.
“You know, in a situation like that, you never really know,” Ainge told Steve Bulpett of The Herald. “I didn’t really feel like we had a great chance, but I thought we had SOME chance. And then after we met with them, I felt like we had a real chance.
“I felt there for about 48 hours that we had a legitimate chance. It seemed like a really good fit. It seemed like a really good option for him, and it just wasn’t meant to be. He had other good options, too, but I did allow myself to get really excited for that 48-hour period, and it just didn’t happen."
When asked if there was anything else he thought the Celtics could have done to convince Durant to choose Boston, Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, said, “Under any circumstances, we weren’t going to be able to produce Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.”
Ainge also said he thought Durant knew fellow free agent Al Horford was going to the Celtics before the C’s did. Horford made his decision known Saturday after the Celtics had met with Durant.
“I got the impression that they knew something before we did,” said Ainge of Team Durant. “I know that they had some conversation. They were very familiar with what Horford was choosing between. It seemed to me in the presentation like Al and KD had been discussing their plans together.”
Ainge said “it was fun for all of us” to bring Tom Brady along for the sales pitch.
“We flew in to the Hamptons and we got in early, so we went out to have lunch,” said Ainge. “I think it was fun for all of us to sit there and talk to Tom Brady and ask him questions. You know, here’s a guy that’s going to be 39 next month, and he talked about his health and fitness and nutrition and his dedication to the game. I thought our players were listening intently to him. And he had some fun stories.
“He’s a huge Tom Brady fan,” Ainge said of Durant. He said Brady and Durant had met once before. “They talked for a minute or two and then we sat down as a group.”
Ainge said the Celtics’ contingent, including Brady, met with Durant, then Brady and Celtic players Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk went outside to talk before Brady and the C’s players flew home.
And of Durant ultimately deciding to leave Oklahoma City and join forces with Golden State, Ainge told the Herald, “You know, I’m not surprised,” said Ainge. “I think everybody in our basketball world knows that Golden State is a very tempting place to play right now. So surprised? No."