OFFSEASON

The grand experiment

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The grand experiment

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

OK, so let's try and picture what this is going to look like:

I'm guessing that you walk in, and the first thing you see is the largest man in NBA history stretched out in front of two lockers. He'll dominate the room without even trying, but most of the time, he'll try anyways.

To his right, there's the distinguished, shooting guardfuture politician discussing golf, current events or literally anything else you could think of with a hoard of writers. Next to him, Shrek and Donkey are cracking jokes, trying to earn the big man's attention and teaching each other how to Dougie.

Turning the corner you'll have a 6-foot-11, 14-year vet who's fresh off the most embarrassing playoff performance of his career. He was one of the league's premiere big men before punching a fan in Detroit and watching his career unravel. He made 44 million over the last two years, and hardly deserved a fraction, but now he's been thrown back into the spotlight. He's on a legitimate contender, and has all the motivation (and motivators) in the world. And he's still only 32.

And finally, next to him, there's the most intense and complicated psyche on the team. He's the emotional and spiritual leader, but also a guy who'd rather swallow a nail than have his concentration broken by pregame nonsense. He keeps to himself but his presence is always felt. He is intense. Always.

Getting back to the big guy in the middle, to his left you'll have the soon-to-be face of the franchise. A kid who doesn't say much, who hates the off-court attention, but will be asked to take control of these grown men and NBA legends. He needs to establish himself for the present, but also prepare himself for the future, because he knows that the greatness that surrounds him is very temporary. He has a few things to prove after a discouraging (by his standards) performance in the Finals, and his questionable break up with Team USA, but he'll have to do so while catering to the needs of his many fellow stars. He was an All-Star last season, and will have to make it back to establish himself as a legit All-Star not just a one-year wonder.

Next to the point guard is The Captain. This is his house. Despite all the other names they've brought in, he's been here longer than anyone else. This is his city. And he could have never imagined this was possible. It wasn't even five years ago that he was ready to split town and chase a title in Portland or L.A., and now his teammates have made a combined 44 All-star game appearances. Some of the greatest players of all time have come to Boston to join him, and they're a contender every year.

Next to the Captain, is the Enigma; literally, one of the most fascinating characters to ever put on an NBA uniform. He's hilarious. He's tragic. He's some sort of genius. And he's also the perfect role player on a contender; a guy we always felt would fit well within this new championship dynamic. He's a complete wild card and a legendary joker, and, for better or worse (read: MILFs) will add a dynamic that only he can.

Moving along, there's the humble, incumbent center, who now stares across the room at that man in the middle one of his fiercest rivals and a guy who came to Boston with the intention of stealing the center spotlight. When the incumbent busted his knee, he never imagined having to compete for his job, but now that will be the reality, as free agency looms. Next to him is a soft-spoken, accomplished rapper, who's getting a do-over after a season so horrible it could have knocked him out of the league. Lastly, we've got two kids from Texas and Notre Dame looking around, wondering how the hell they got here.

And that about does no, wait.

Let's not forget the man who was so close to not being there at all. Of course, he decided to give it one more go around, and this is his reward. An unprecedented combination of personality, pride, skill and psychosis. A human experiment if you've ever see one:

The 2010-11 Boston Celtics.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

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