Six summers in the past appears like a unique universe. Marcus Good, Isaiah Thomas, and Kelly Olynyk led a Kevin Durant pitch within the Hamptons that’ll be remembered without end by Celtics followers. Tom Brady acted as a spokesman for New England. Danny Ainge guided a Boston franchise towards including each Al Horford and Durant, and changing into prohibitive title favorites.
Now, Ainge is in Utah, Brady is in Tampa Bay, Thomas is combating to remain within the NBA, and the Celtics have entered the most recent Durant sweepstakes, in keeping with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Boston has provided Jaylen Brown, in keeping with Charania, a robust overture that, regardless of the Nets declining, instantly locations the Boston in pole place to amass one of many best gamers of all time. The Nets want to stay related after Durant, and given Brown’s youth, upside and skill to guide a aggressive staff now, Brown and his beneath market contract pairs properly with Ben Simmons in Brooklyn. On account of Simmons’ designated rookie extension standing, he can’t be on the roster with different stars the Nets may goal in change, like Donovan Mitchell, Bam Adebayo, Devin Booker and Michael Porter Jr. The Suns’ Deandre Ayton signing made him trade-ineligible till January, additional stalling the Durant market and opening the door for the Celtics to emerge as a robust suitor that might be one transfer from a championship.
Think about Boston exhibiting up for a Finals rematch in opposition to the Warriors with a motivated Durant, who averaged practically 30 factors, 7.4 rebounds and 6.4 assists per recreation on 52% capturing, making the All-NBA Second Staff and thought of an MVP frontrunner earlier than spraining his MCL final 12 months. His lackluster first spherical collection seemed dangerous, however got here in opposition to an intimidating Celtics protection after he carried further weight all season for a sporadically obtainable Kyrie Irving and James Harden (earlier than Simmons arrived and didn’t play). Durant, 33, remains to be one of many 2-5 finest gamers within the NBA with Jayson Tatum not far behind. Golden State could be frightened.
Brown’s inclusion is not any insult, like Adebayo’s wasn’t in Warmth rumors — “it’s what it’s,” Bam stated. It’s a credit score to how helpful and prolific they’ve turn out to be as gamers. Brown could be an ideal start line for a franchise retooling on the fly, with the Celtics reportedly providing Brown alongside Derrick White and a first-round choose. The Nets countered, demanding Marcus Good, extra future first-round picks and probably one other rotation participant. Boston can supply three firsts and two swaps, with a 2028 possibility already despatched to the Spurs within the White deal.
The Malcolm Brogdon commerce gave Boston better flexibility to commerce a guard and the Danilo Gallinari signing may Grant Williams obtainable. The road stops at Robert Williams III, whose Defensive Participant of the Yr-worthy season in his first as a full-time starter and his offensive upside seemed like a professional championship swing issue. Boston received his Finals minutes handily and he’s turn out to be borderline untouchable regardless of lingering well being issues.
That leaves Brown as a centerpiece. Regardless of making huge strides enjoying with Tatum, changing into a part of a top-ranked protection and his personal annual enchancment, he’s solely signed for 2 extra years. The explanation to commerce for Durant could be his capability to vault the staff’s offense into the upper-echelon of the league regardless that Brown’s pending free company is an ancillary consideration.
Brown and Tatum have repeatedly performed up their bond and Brown’s invested within the metropolis via a pop-up retailer for his clothes model and education schemes with native schools. Nonetheless, Brown recently liked a tweet commenting on disrespect from Celtics fans, and joined the Donda Sports activities advertising company, with its head Kanye West reportedly contemplating Brown underappreciated. Durant’s need to play in an intense Boston market is price contemplating, too. Brown’s lived it and thrived whereas Durant has clapped again at criticism about his Warriors tenure.
Brown tweeted “smh” after the studies got here out Monday morning. There is probably not any situation past an annual annoyance of his identify being talked about in commerce rumors. NBA historical past does present gamers as proficient, influential, and holding the potential Brown does wanting their very own staff, metropolis and affect unbiased of how revered they really feel. Nonetheless, the Celtics can in the end supply him probably the most cash by far, not in contrast to this summer time’s offers for Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal.
It’s inconceivable to foretell the longer term, whether or not it’s Durant’s or Brown’s, however on condition that Boston can solely supply a three-year, $123-million extension to Brown starting on Oct. 1, he’ll inevitably turn out to be an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Then, it’ll be troublesome to get better any fraction of worth if Brown decides to depart — one 12 months earlier than Tatum can attain his personal free company.
The primary consideration ought to be on the ground right now. Does Durant convey you considerably nearer to a championship right now if you happen to change Brown with him?
That reply is sure, relying on how rather more Boston offers up past Brown. Each the Celtics and Warriors confirmed the worth of depth, continuity and what number of dependable contributors you’ll be able to courtroom within the playoffs. There’s an excessive amount of expertise within the league now to make your self a skinny tremendous staff. Others just like the Nets and Lakers faltered as a result of their lack of full, versatile rosters.
We don’t have a concrete motive for why Durant demanded a commerce one month in the past, whether or not in protection of Irving or to flee him, however Brooklyn has Durant below contract for 4 years. It’d take a severe or disruptive holdout or possession intervention to power Sean Marks right into a deal they don’t discover substantive. Brooklyn gave up its first-round picks via 2028, in order that they’ll must get better what they misplaced to the Rockets within the Harden commerce. There’s monetary incentive for them to stay aggressive as one of the vital costly groups in NBA historical past.
The Celtics couldn’t relaxation on their success final 12 months both. Ime Udoka acknowledged the offense did Boston in. Brad Stevens admitted the necessity for extra playmaking and introduced in Brogdon. Whereas inside development may inch the staff nearer to a championship, having the ability to throw Durant the ball and get a basket from him at will would assist shake up a lot of the staff’s offensive stagnancy from the postseason.
Durant helps passing, motion, turnover and effectivity points. Tatum’s presence takes some facilitating and scoring load off Durant, permitting him to relaxation extra usually. As a seven-footer who can play some middle, he’d be a perfect match for Udoka’s defensive system. Udoka coached Durant in the course of the 2020-21 season in Brooklyn, after main Durant and Tatum collectively on Staff USA final summer time. Whereas Tatum stays above the fray, Durant’s fiery edge might be a productive complement for the star.
The query for the franchise and followers alike will likely be which they like, a stronger fast probability or two at a title, or an extended window with a youthful staff that may fall simply quick like they did final season?