This summer, Kevin Durant will be the most sought-after superstar to hit free agency since LeBron James in 2010. Don’t count Toronto Raptors out as a possible dark horse destination, as per the latest from the Kevin Durant Free Agency bulletin.
For a long time, the Raptors have been loosely linked with Durant. There are several factors: 1) Durant is a close friend of Raptors’ global ambassador and Canadian rap mogul Drake, and 2) Durant, who grew up a Vince Carter fan, once admitted that he dreamed of playing in Toronto as a kid.
Raptors, with a top-10 ranked offense and defense, have positively bolstered their case this season. As the second best team in the East, they are as elite as the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers and Cavaliers.
Drake is already preparing a recruiting pitch for Durant. In August 2014, when Durant attended the rapper’s concert in Toronto, Drake made his intentions crystal clear. “Before we leave, I just want to show one of my brothers (Durant) something,” the rapper told the audience. “You know, my brother Kevin Durant was kind enough to come to the show tonight and watch us. I just want him to see what would happen if he came to play in Toronto. Let him know what would happen.”
At Drake’s request, the crowd poured Durant with a thunderous ovation including a “KD” chant. Durant was evidently flattered and continued to praise the city of Toronto during the All-Star weekend last month. Perhaps, Durant is viewing Toronto as a serious possibility? Why wouldn’t he? The Raptors are a legitimate threat to the Cavs in the East, not to mention the fact that Toronto would be an ideal destination for a low-profile individual such as Durant.
Kevin Durant Free Agency: Cap space challenge…
Of course, the Raptors do have to manufacture enough cap space to sign Durant. With DeMar DeRozan expected to command a max deal of his own, Raptors will have to most likely get rid of DeMarre Carroll and/or Terrence Ross as part of a sign-and-trade with the Thunder. Another option is to find a team that absorbs Carroll’s salary without any player/compensation in return.
Masai Ujiri, the Raptors general manager, can be creative with his off-season transactions. It won’t be surprising if he decides to find suitors for Patrick Patterson and Ross before getting a sit-down meeting with Durant. By offloading Patterson and Ross, the Raptors open up $16 million in the books. Therefore, signing Durant to a max contract isn’t as big a challenge as convincing him to travel to the North.
Stay tuned for the latest on Kevin Durant Free Agency.