Kevin Durant (and Dwight Howard) want to hear what the Celtics have to say

A lot people will be heading out to the Hamptons this July 4th weekend to celebrate the rocket's red glare and drink a million drinks or whatever. But one man, Kevin Durant, will be taking long walks on the beach with five of the NBA's most well-positioned franchises and sussing out the best option for his future. After meeting with the Thunder tomorrow in OKC, Durant will meet with the Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Heat, and the Boston Celtics over the holiday weekend. His decision could shift the balance of power in the NBA for years to come.

The fact that the Celtics are getting on Durant's short list is a huge step forward for a Celtics franchise that historically hasn't had the cap space or the Riley-esque gravitas to recruit marquee free agents to Boston. The Celtics will undoubtedly tout themselves as a team on the rise, with a secure ownership/coaching situation, cap space to sign another star, and draft picks to keep the cupboard full of elite, young, cheap talent for years to come. There's an easier path to the Finals and Durant's first ring if he's playing in the East. Also something along these lines:

Thunder: You sure that Russ isn't bolting next year?
Warriors: Steph and Klay and Draymond and Kerr won 73 without you
Spurs: Pop and Duncan's team
Clippers: They need to vote one of CP3/Blake/Jordan off the island to sign you
Heat: Wade and Riley's team

Celtics: Unquestionably your team. Pick your max contract friend and let's go.

But there's a big question on whether or not Durant is going to sign a long-term deal or just a two year deal with a player option for the second year. The latter might be more likely, according to Woj. As transcribed by Masslive's Jay King:
"The one thing about the KD meetings -- and I've gotten this from several teams -- a lot of them really see it more as they probably, listen they'd love to get him now, but they kind of feel like they're planting the seed and laying the groundwork for next year," Wojnarowski said. "They all know he's likely to stay in OKC, or certainly it's going to be hard to convince him to leave. They feel like they're laying the groundwork for the 2017 free agency by getting in front of him now, telling the story of their organization and how they view his future with them, and that maybe they get another crack at him next summer.

So if this meeting with Durant could just be laying the foundation for next year's free agent fest, what does that mean for the rest of this offseason for the Celtics?

This could sum it up.

By price, Himmelsbach might actually mean years. It's hard to believe the Celtics will sacrifice years of work to carefully construct their current level of roster flexibility only to give Dwight Howard a multi-year max contract. Especially if their true shot at Durant along with the rest of the 2017 free-agent pool is still a year away.

Regardless, the Celtics have gone from a team that couldn't get a meeting with Lamarcus Aldridge last year to a team that is on Kevin Durant's short list and having a meeting with Dwight Howard just to see if the price is right. At this point, Howard might want the Celtics more than the Celtics want him. That's a good place to be.

No matter how you feel about Dwight Howard in green, that's some level of progress for Boston as a free agent destination. Maybe another big step forward next summer is what we should really be hoping for.

Oh, and I almost forgot. There's this: