December 9, 2023

When Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets and his list of preferred destinations surfaced, the Boston Celtics were not considered among likeliest landing spots. But they always made sense as a possible destination … if they were willing to part with Jaylen Brown. That was a big if, but it appears the Celtics are indeed moving in the direction of what would be a blockbuster trade for Durant. 

The Celtics have “emerged as a real threat to acquire Durant” after offering a Brown-based package to the Nets, who turned down the offer and countered asking for more, according to Shams Charania. 

From Charania:

The Celtics offered Brown, guard Derrick White and a draft pick to the Nets for Durant, sources said. The proposal was rejected, and Brooklyn has asked Boston — in any proposal — to include Brown, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, draft picks and potentially one more rotation player, those sources added. Currently, the Celtics are less inclined to include Smart along with multiple other player or pick assets, but the franchise is mulling over next steps on how to approach discussions.

As of right now, the Celtics have emerged as a serious possibility as a landing spot for Durant. They have tremendous interest in bringing him in and view him as a piece that could take them over that final hurdle. Although there is work to be done, there is a deal to be had that would suffice the Nets’ overwhelming ask.

Even though Durant is one of the best players in the world, you can understand Boston’s hesitance to add even more to an offer that already includes an All-Star in Brown. Including Smart to an outgoing package would remove two elite defenders from a defense that just took the Celtics to the NBA Finals. That said, Boston’s acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon clearly makes Smart more expendable. 

Acquiring Durant would put the Celtics on a title-or-bust clock. With Brown, who turns 26 in October, and emerging MVP candidate Jayson Tatum, who’s just 24, the timeline for Boston to compete for and hopefully win titles is essentially open ended. Durant, on the other hand, will be 34 when the season starts. 

Brown added to the speculation a few hours after Charania’s report, simply tweeting “Smh.”

Again, Durant remains at the top of his game, and we’re seeing superstars like LeBron James and Chris Paul stretch their primes long beyond the realistic thresholds of the past. Still, trading a 25-year-old All-Star who has All-NBA potential over the next half decade, plus a Defensive Player of the Year, plus future draft equity, is the definition of pushing all your chips into the middle. 

That’s always going to give you pause. We’ll see if the Celtics are willing to come up to Brooklyn’s terms. But the train has at least started moving in that direction. Including Brown in an offer was a big hurdle to clear for the Celtics. If it were to happen, there will presumably be plenty of Boston fans — Durant’s greatness notwithstanding — uncertain, if not unhappy, about the deal. 

Again, the championship window for a Brown-Tatum will simply be open longer, and the defense would suffer greatly without Brown and Smart, let alone if Derrick White goes out, too. But in the end, this is Kevin Durant we’re talking about. It’s going to take a huge package to get him, and Boston has the parts to make it happen. Stay tuned. 

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