Kevin Durant, Boston Celtics could have makings of potent partnership

Kevin Durant, Boston Celtics could have makings of potent partnership

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 table.

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 far.

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 protected)

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 burner.

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 mirror.

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 2025.

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.

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