OFFSEASON

Preseason Blues: Celtics back to work

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Preseason Blues: Celtics back to work

The Celtics are in Philadelphia tonight for their second real preseason game (now there's an oxymoron) of the year, while everyone back home readjusts to the preseason's overwhelming irrelevance.

It's been a while since we were here. Two years, to be exact. Thanks to last year's lockout, the 2011 preseason lasted all of two games both of which came against the Raptors and served very little purpose. But on the bright side, at least it was brief. It was over as soon as it began. This year, we're back to the norm two weeks of meaningless games! Where little is gained by the players, less is learned by the fans, and to make matters worse, we all scramble to convince ourselves otherwise. As if anything we see tonight will alter the game plan for this season. As if Kris Joseph or Dionte Christmas might catch fire and keep Doc up at night, figuring out a way to work them into his rotation. That might be the case on some teams, but it's nothing that concerns these Celtics.

Rondo, Lee, Terry, Pierce, Bass, Green, Sullinger, Milicic, Wilcox, Garnett, Collins.

That's 11.

That's the team. Whether the season starts on the 30th or tomorrow, you already know the contributors and how they'll be utilized. Anything we don't know is far more likely to be worked out behind the scenes in practice as opposed to in exhibitions against a string of division rivals.

Kevin Garnett will sit tonight, and you know this won't be his last preseason DNP. You know he'll be joined on the sidelines by Pierce and Rondo on more than a few occasions. That's because the positives to be gained in the preseason are far outweighed by the potential negatives a.k.a. injuries. We watch these games hoping no one gets hurts, fearing that someone will get hurt, and that's no way to watch basketball.

But that's the preseason. And believe it or not, it's just getting started. On one hand, it's seems crazy to complain. Would we rather go back to last year's mess, when we spent October hating everything the league stood for and wondering if there might be basketball at all? Of course not. A longer pre-season is a small price to pay for the ability to eliminate "lockout" from our daily vocabulary.

But there's no question that the best part of tonight's game in Philly is that once it's over, there will one less game standing between the Celtics and the real thing.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

OFFSEASON

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

Kevin Durant solidifying invitations for free agent meetings, including Celtics

The wheels of the Kevin Durant free agent train have been set in motion.

"Durant’s representatives at Roc Nation are working to solidify invitations" for meetings with a list of six teams, which includes the Boston Celtics, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The other teams listed are the Warriors, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Thunder. The Nuggets, Knicks, Lakers, Rockets, and Wizards could "could still find audiences with him," but they are considered outsiders.

Wojnarowski says the Thunder remain the frontrunners, but "the Warriors have Durant's attention."

If Durant chooses the Warriors, it could happen very quickly. Warriors restricted free agent Harrison Barnes could sign an offer sheet for a contract on July 1, which would mean the Warriors would have only have three days to match the deal. They'd likely need a decision from Durant before then, or they'd risk losing one of their valuable pieces without being able to fill his role.

Durant plans on making his decision before July 9 anyway, according to Wojnarowski, because that's when he's leaving for a publicity tour in the Far East.

The fact the Celtics are even on Durant's primary list shouldn't come as a surprise considering his actions after his game in Boston against the Celtics earlier this year. They do have tough competition though. Both the Warriors and Heat have the cap space to absorb Durant's likely max contract worth about $26.4 million, and the Spurs can easily create the space if necessary.

The Clippers are interesting though, because they'd have to deal one of their stars (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, or Blake Griffin) to free the cap space to sign Durant. If he does choose the Clippers, maybe Danny Ainge could help Doc Rivers swing a deal. How about something involving Blake Griffin and Jae Crowder?

But the Celtics have an edge. They're the only team listed that can sign two max contract free agents. If Durant wants to play with his buddy Al Horford, or anyone else for that matter, the Celtics can make it happen. How about a 2007 draft class reunion with Durant, Horford, and Jared Dudley? It's an odd trio, but Dudley has already expressed interest in joining the Celtics.

No matter what happens though, the Celtics are in the race. Fans might be disappointed after Thursday night, but we're just getting started, folks.

Kevin O’Connor can be followed on Twitter: @KevinOConnorNBA