League sources tell B/R that the Boston Celtics have made an effort to acquire Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, but Boston isn’t exactly a fresh player in the Nets’ ongoing trade process.
The Celtics’ front office was willing to part with Jaylen Brown weeks ago at the beginning of July, according to sources, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic on Monday. Rival team representatives met with Sean Marks and other Brooklyn team officials in Las Vegas for the NBA Summer League.
There has been a gap in the NBA’s most important trade discussions since the end of summer league, and team personnel aren’t expecting a huge deal anytime soon. Unless a team suddenly goes all-in to pursue Durant or Utah Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, this won’t alter.
According to B/sources, R’s Boston’s discussions with the Nets about Durant were taken into consideration by both sides as part of the Nets’ initial step of ongoing negotiations.
There are still four years left on Durant’s contract, which makes him one of the NBA’s most valuable players. Utah’s record-breaking deal for Rudy Gobert and San Antonio’s record-breaking deal for Dejounte Murray have raised the market price for an established All-Star to unimaginable levels. There have been no trade proposals that have come close to fulfilling Brooklyn’s high expectations for Durant, who will turn 34 in September and has a prominent injury history that has limited him to only 90 games in each of the last three seasons. When asked by B/R about the Nets’ requirements, a number of opposing executives said that Brooklyn has no plans to move Durant at all.
In order to contemplate any Durant package, sources say the Nets are looking for at least one true All-Star, as well as additional valuable players and a sizable amount of draft money. While Durant is expected to evaluate the Nets’ training camp roster, the Brooklyn Nets believe he may decide that playing in Barclays Center will give him the best chance to win a championship in 2022-23.
To begin with, the Celtics’ ability to court Durant will be determined by their willingness to bend to Brooklyn’s wants, just as it is with any other interested team. Nonetheless, the Nets’ uncompromising posture hasn’t prevented their rivals from drawing their own hard lines.
Prospective suitors are hoping that if Durant responds positively to his trade request in late September, Brooklyn would be forced to drop its asking price. So far, he has not shown any sign of planning a holdout of any kind. However, rival team executives have repeatedly emphasized that scenario as the one variable that could push Brooklyn to withdraw its costly demands.
Yes, but Is Brown Brooklyn’s Only Choice?
This young Boston Celtics shooter would be an obvious candidate for Brooklyn if Kevin Durant were to leave the Nets in free agency after this season. Even though he’s only 25, is Brown capable of guiding the Nets to a lengthy playoff run without two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant at his disposal?
When it comes to comparing Brown to NBA All-Star Brandon Ingram or Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, how would the Nets feel? The Nets are rumored to be interested in both Ingram and Barnes as possible replacements for Durant.
For now, the Nets have precedent for replenishing their draft capital, which was depleted after the James Harden deal in January 2021, but league insiders say the Nets are more interested in a package that will help them compete for the NBA championship.
If Phoenix’s now-nonexistent offer of Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and the richest possible amount of draft picks wasn’t enough to satisfy Brooklyn, then Boston has a big space between the Nets’ high price point and a package of Brown, Derrick White, and a first-rounder. The Suns have matched Indiana’s offer sheet for Ayton, therefore he can no longer be dealt until January 15th.
Increased Acceptance of the Brown Trade in Boston
The Celtics appear to be seriously considering moving Brown for the first time at this point. As recently as 2018, sources told B/R, Boston did not make Brown available as a trade chip for Kawhi Leonard from the San Antonio Spurs.
According to league insiders, only the Lakers made a serious offer for Anthony Davis when he was up for grabs in 2019. The Celtics never discussed incorporating Brown in a deal to the Pelicans when Davis was available for trade in 2019. While Ben Simmons was being spoken about by Boston last autumn, the Sixers remained firm in their demand for an All-Star center and additional assets, and their discussions never progressed beyond that point.
At 23-24 in January, the Celtics only began to explore the possible returns of parting with Brown this offseason, according to sources. This was done to better optimize the Celtics’ competing window featuring Jayson Tatum. Sources tell Sports Illustrated that the Celtics were not interested in acquiring Brown before to the February trade deadline.
Few players would Boston be willing to give up in exchange for Brown, but the Celtics have had their eye on Durant since before his 2006-07 draft year, when they squandered opportunities to sign him or Greg Oden in June of that year. Durant was a free agent in 2016 when Boston dispatched a high-profile group—including Tom Brady—to the Hamptons to try and entice him away from Golden State.
Since their historic journey to the Finals, Celtics officials have talked about wanting to add to a championship core. Malcolm Brogdon bolstered the team’s ball-handling, while free agency signing Danilo Gallinari is expected to give a scoring boost for the second team. It is expected that Sam Hauser will play a more prominent role as a backup marksman.
Even if they don’t sign Durant, the Celtics will still be one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference, but some internal reorganization is expected.
When Jake Fischer is not writing about the NBA for Bleacher Report, he is writing a book about the NBA’s tanking era.