Several teams that have interest in Durant – the Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Washington Wizards – could still find audiences with him, but appear to be outsiders in the process now.
It's not very surprising that the Nuggets have interest in Durant. He's easily one of the five best players in the world and would instantly transform the Nuggets from lottery team to championship contender. The larger question is, why would Durant want to play for the Nuggets? Why would he even take a meeting?
There are two theories here that should be explored.
1. The Nuggets front office genuinely believes that they have a chance at persuading Durant to come to Denver.
The Nuggets have the cap space available to offer Durant a max contract so the first order of business is out of the way. But being in a winning situation is rumored to be the highest priority for Durant and teams like the Spurs, Warriors, and Thunder can make a much more compelling case for both immediate and long-term competitiveness. The Nuggets have a great young core of players under 21 years old but Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Muriday aren't ready right now to play starters minutes on a championship team.
The Nuggets may believe that their collection of assets is extremely tradeable and that the team could build a super team around Durant in short order. Danilo Gallinari is wanted by several teams and with all of the promising youth on the roster, it would be somewhat easy to make a deal for nearly any player in the league. Nikola Jokic and Kenneth Faried for Boogie Cousins? Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallo for Chris Paul? We're starting to get closer to crazy-town but perhaps the Nuggets believe they can build a big three by trading away their most precious assets.
2. The Nuggets just want to raise their profile
The most likely scenario is that the Nuggets just want to raise their profile around the league and with their fans. If they can land a meeting with Durant it would create a buzz around the city and create some buzz around the team, even if temporarily.
The team's reputation would also bolster if they got a meeting as they could show that they are serious about wanting to be among the league's elite franchises. Right now, the Nuggets brand doesn't belong in the same sentence as teams like the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs. This swing for the fence mentality might demonstrate that the Nuggets want to be a part of the upper-echelon of teams, willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Unfortunately, that's not the Nuggets reputation right now. The Nuggets were last in attendance and have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons. They have an underwhelming practice facility for example, a gym that was too small for Michael Malone to hold training camp last fall. These are small things but they are important to free agents so it's difficult to imagine Durant being impressed with anything the Nuggets have to offer right now.
Durant almost certainly isn't coming to Denver but it is something to keep an eye on for other reasons. Tim Connelly has said that the Nuggets will be very aggressive this summer in the trade market and in free agency and this is the first sign of just how aggressive they plan to be. Even if they fall well short and don't even land a meeting, it may be a sign of the types of high profile moves they are looking to make.