The seal has been broken. No matter how ridiculous it may seem to some, there is now a legitimate reason to start mentioning Kevin Durant free agency rumors and scenarios in which he could come to the Rockets.
Are the chances low? Sure. But it's perfectly fair to acknowledge there's a non-zero chance he'll sign here, and that's a pretty enticing notion. And enticing is exactly how the Rockets are trying to look right now.
I find an odd humor in Jonathan Feigen, the pre-eminent written-word beat reporter on the Rockets, writing a four-paragraph story, two of which are quotes from Michael Beasley talking about how close he and Kevin Durant there. The only way Feigen could have been less subtle is if he had written "I'll just leave this here" in a tweet.
"We're family, man," Beasley said. "I know his whole family. He knows my whole family. We're more than friends. You can't get away from that. We grew up together. We went to the same schools, from the same neighborhood."
They also won a lot of games together for the PG Jaguars, an AAU team from Prince George, Maryland. Durant wears No. 35 in honor of their coach, Charles Craig.
"We went a couple years without a loss, man," Beasley said. "We were young. By the time we got 13, 14, he went to the Nike circuit; I went to the Adidas circuit. But we're always friends."
Here is when I again couch that I predict Kevin Durant re-signs with the Thunder, at least for another year, likely longer. But the Top 10 list of likely locations he would otherwise go has to include the Rockets, potentially even the Top 5. Unlike Dwight Howard circa 2011-2012, Durant and his associates have been completely tight-lipped about possible destinations. There are no Nets and Lakers connections to draw, only assumptions based on fit, championship odds and cap space.
The Rockets have severely damaged their position this offseason. The Spurs played lights out last year, and LaMarcus Aldridge—albeit always a likelier candidate to change teams—chose to sign there. A great season with little off-court messiness would make the Rockets an appealing candidate.
But Michael Beasley returning also—again, theoretically—helps the Rockets' chances of signing, as does longtime friend James Harden, the lack of state income tax, a front office with a reputation for success and a hopefully dynamite coaching hire. And it's not like the Rockets didn't just give the Thunder a big scare on the road Tuesday night.
Considering the Rockets' current path of a weeklong stay in the NBA playoffs, it's time to start dreaming. At least we can talk about it.