Early Monday morning, we finally got an update on the
month-long, ongoing saga around Kevin Durant’s uncertain future
with the Brooklyn Nets. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and
The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Boston Celtics have now entered
the race to secure Durant’s services.
Already on the precipice of winning an NBA championship last
season, if the Celtics paired KD alongside Jayson Tatum, it would
create instant fireworks and terrorize the Eastern Conference.
However, the likely price to pay could be a bittersweet one for
Boston, as Jaylen Brown’s name is at the center of the negotiation
Charania mentioned that the Celtics offered Brown, Derrick White
and a future first-round pick for Durant. Brooklyn declined and
reportedly countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, another key
role player and multiple draft picks. From there, talks are unknown
with Durant’s trade request looming over the entire offseason thus
Boston’s late entry into the Durant derby is an interesting
twist, to say the least, because they have all the necessary pieces
to make a strong offer. From the beginning, the Nets’ asking price
has included a player with star upside, win-now rotation pieces and
all of the draft artillery possible from an opposing team. While
Boston doesn’t check every box, it has arguably the biggest trump
card of all with Brown.
Being the second option next to Tatum, Brown has flourished and
become one of the most dependable two-way wings in the league.
Since 2020, Brown’s numbers have indicated he's ready to soar to
the moon with more usage (24.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists
and 1.2 steals per game on 58.0% True Shooting). Away from Tatum,
it’s fair to assume Brown’s scoring outlook would only lead him to
become a true No. 1 option for an organization. In Brooklyn, Brown
certainly would have that potential runway.
But is this whole process of chasing Durant worth it in the
first place for Boston? That’s the question internally the Celtics
are surely debating, but it’s certainly notable that the
25-year-old wing was already included in a proposal. Where there’s
smoke, fire usually follows in situations like this.
Since Brad Stevens stepped off the court as head coach and
became general manager, the Celtics’ aggressiveness in trying to
improve can’t go unnoticed. White, who was included in the original
Durant proposal alongside Brown, just joined the team midseason
after Boston traded a draft pick and a future swap (top-pick
protected) in 2028. Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari were
massive additions to bolster an already robust unit of depth in
Boston. Durant’s inclusion would be like Thanos acquiring the last
Infinity Stone before he snaps his fingers.
Yes, this deal may hurt the Celtics’ long-term window, but
there’s no denying Boston would put itself a head above everyone
else in the East with such a huge splash.
With both sides already declining offers and counter-proposals,
here’s a potential framework that seemingly meets in the middle of
those original asking prices.
Celtics receive: Kevin Durant
Nets receive: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, 2025
first-round pick (unprotected), 2026 pick swap (top-3
Boston sending out its second-best player in Brown and the
Defensive Player of the Year would be a real haul for the Nets to
receive at this stage for Durant. In comparison to other potential
offers out there from teams known to have interest — Phoenix Suns,
Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors — Boston presents the best player in
the short- and long-term window. (Bam Adebayo and Scottie Barnes
are reportedly not available.)
Maybe the Suns can blow Brooklyn away with all of their future
draft capital for the next seven years alongside Mikal Bridges and
Cameron Johnson, but is that really beating an offer featuring
Brown and Smart? It seems doubtful, and it feels like the only way
Brooklyn chooses Phoenix in that scenario is if it simply doesn’t
want to do business with a division rival.
For Boston, Durant’s arrival would present a unique opportunity
to trot out all kinds of lineup combinations with plenty of depth
left to spare.
Starters: Derrick White, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant,
Al Horford, Robert Williams
Second Unit: Peyton Pritchard, Malcolm Brogdon, Sam
Hauser, Danilo Gallinari, Grant Williams
Bringing veterans like Brogdon and Gallinari aboard softens the
significant blow of losing two key pillars just a tad bit. However,
this type of move would seriously test the special chemistry Boston
has established over multiple years. The Celtics' young core has
grown together, and they were right on the doorstep of winning it
all, certainly ahead of schedule. Durant would make them a
sure-fire favorite, especially over the next four seasons, but what
does it look like afterward? If you’re a team operating in a
constant win-now state for a title-hungry organization like the
Celtics, those are thoughts that honestly go to the back
In the NBA, “windows” of opportunity to win it are what you make
of them. Whether it be shorter or longer than expected, the goal
every year should be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at the
season’s end. A Durant and Tatum duo would be an on-court symphony
from a scoring perspective, and key glue-guy pieces such as
Brogdon, Horford, Gallinari and Williams should still help preserve
a strong backbone of a ready-made contender.
While it could certainly rock the boat from a chemistry
perspective — breaking off 2/3 of the team's prioritized core —
players of Durant’s caliber just don’t come around often. Durant
has already proven his greatness, showing no signs of slowing down
after a devastating Achilles injury now well in the rearview
While this was never an imaginable fit a month ago, Boston and
Durant have the makings of a potent partnership. If the future
Hall-of-Famer bought in 100% to their philosophy, the Celtics could
become an organization with dynasty-type potential, as all of their
key pieces would be under contract in this scenario through
While reserved and mild-mannered, Stevens has shown as the lead
executive he’s ready to take risks to make the Celtics better.
Durant is the biggest possibility yet to test that theory. But the
short-term gains outweigh the long-term window — one that could be
extended anyway as Tatum enters his prime years.