Few teams have the depth of talent to meet Brooklyn’s asking price for a Kevin Durant trade without completely gutting their roster to the point that getting Durant would not matter.
The Boston Celtics are one of those few teams.
They could throw Jaylen Brown in the mix and still have Jayson Tatum to pair with Durant. Because of that, Boston has emerged as one of the teams engaged with Brooklyn on a Durant trade, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The Celtics appear no closer to acquiring Durant than others in discussions with the Nets, but Boston’s ability to include All-Star forward Jaylen Brown as a centerpiece in offers does help to make the team formidable in its pursuit, sources said.
The Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors have been well-known to have varying degrees of interest in Durant, but the Celtics have also been in regular contact with the Nets, sources said.
Nothing is imminent, the report emphasizes. Subsequent reports suggest the talks and offers are weeks old and the Nets’ conversations with the Celtics — like Brooklyn’s talks with other teams — are dormant.
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.
Durant trade talks have slowed overall, especially since the Suns matched the offer for Deandre Ayton. Part of that slowdown is because the Nets are asking for an overwhelming package of players (with at least one of an All-Star caliber) and picks in return for the former MVP, and teams are balking at the price.
The Celtics are one of the few teams who can meet the Nets asking price while still having enough talent on the roster to compete for a title. Jayson Tatum is off the table in any trade talks, and a Tatum/Durant combo has the Celtics at the top of the list of contenders. The thing is, they are already there.
Would the Celtics break up a roster that found its rhythm and identity in the middle of last season, then rode that to the NBA Finals (sweeping the Nets out of the postseason as part of that run)? Boston’s offseason moves to add Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari strengthened the roster and solidified it as one of the favorites to come out of the East next season.
It’s a philosophical question for the Celtics on a certain level — would they rather ride with the core they drafted and developed in-house, or is the smart move to use part of that core to secure one of the greatest scorers the game has ever seen, and a proven two-time champion? With Durant, Boston seems destined to put up at least one more banner in the next handful of years.
Whatever happens, Boston is at least in the conversation of a Durant trade.