When it came to Kevin Durant's much-hyped NBA free agency decision this summer, many believed it came down to the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Boston Celtics as a dark horse.
"We were willing to take the gamble if we felt we were in it. And we were in it. We were in the top-3 at the very end," said Rivers. "But we had to make a couple calls to (Durant's camp). We got two players to delay an hour (before making their decisions). We had two players on our team who could sign for more money but they were going to wait another hour to stay with us.
"The second thing is we had to get this right. If we're going to go after Durant, if we can get him, let's stay in it. It's worth it, even if we don't get him. If we're not going to get him, we have to make that decision. We have to do our job business wise."
When Durant met with the Clippers in early July, he was reportedly "blown away" in his meeting with the franchise.
"We asked a simple question. We sat around trying to figure out what's the right question. And the first question we asked is 'are we in the top-3?' and they said 'yes'," said Rivers. "That made us feel good. We talked about it. My next question is 'are we in the top-2?' We made the decision, if they say 'no' then we go. If they say 'yes' we stay. They said 'no'."
Durant ended up choosing the Warriors, as he thought it was a better fit along with the fact that it would have been easier for him to get his max contract with them than it would have been with the Clips.
"I thought he liked us a lot," said Rivers. "He told us since and so have his representatives. The presentation I did and Lawrence (Frank) and Steve (Ballmer) is good or maybe the best presentation. But when they kept looking at how we were going to do it. We had to actually ask each guy to take a hit financially. We needed Kevin to take a hit this year to fit and next year we would have needed Blake (Griffin) and Chris (Paul) to take a hit financially. He didn't have to do that if he stayed in Oklahoma. He didn't have to do that if he went to Golden State. Plus they had room to build around that. I think at the end of the day, they looked at is as far as roster wise, well, 'the Clippers look great, we love who they are but financially they are going to be so strapped, it's going to be so hard to work, I think we're going to go the safer place,' and that was Golden State."
Durant has so far taken a ton of criticism for his decision. I wonder what kind of response he would've gotten had he chosen a team like Los Angeles or Boston instead.