Celtics Should Tread Carefully As Kevin Durant Requests Trade From Nets

Specifically, Boston shouldn't deal Jaylen Brown

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Kevin Durant sent shockwaves through the NBA on Thursday afternoon, a few hours before the official start of free agency, as the superstar reportedly requested to be traded by the Brooklyn Nets.

ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report Durant’s trade request. Wojnarowski shared that Nets general manager Sean Marks is working with Durant on finding a trade destination.

Durant, entering his age-34 season, undoubtedly will have dozens of teams (perhaps 29?) making a call to the Nets to gain intel on the asking price. The Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns already have been reported to be on Durant’s wish list. The competition to land Durant only will drive up Brooklyn’s price.

Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics would be wise to pick up the phone and give Marks a ring. But from there, the Celtics should tread carefully when it comes to following through on negotiations.

The reason is rather simple: The Celtics have two of the best 25-or-younger players and it would not be smart to break them up for the short-term, ring-chasing potential Durant offers. As currently constructed, the reigning Eastern Conference champions have the makeup of a team that is in position to have long-term, sustained success. Boston was two wins away from the NBA Finals, after all. Is this group not deserving of running it back with some changes to the margins?

Jaylen Brown likely would be what the Nets ask for in a trade package for Durant. The Celtics almost certainly would laugh at Brooklyn trying to request First Team All-NBA selection Jayson Tatum. But sending Brown to Brooklyn still would be too much. NBA teams currently envy the position the Celtics find themselves in given that Brown and Tatum are both young, two-way stars who are under contract for two or more seasons.

This is not to say Brown, where we stand currently, offers the upside and potential that Durant does. He does not. Durant, a 12-time NBA All-Star and 10-time All-NBA selection, is arguably the best player in the league. If not the best, he’s among the top 3 or 5. Brown is not. The 25-year-old Brown is a one-time NBA All-Star who was not voted to the league showcase this past season. However, with that said, Brown has continued to improve each season, and he’s earned the confidence that he will do the same this summer.

The finances are another reason why the Celtics would be wise to pass. Superstars carry superstar wallets, of course. Durant is owed $194 million over the next four years including $53 million in his age-37 season. But his contract, along with the final four years of Tatum’s five-year, $163 million contract would severely hamstring the Celtics. Brown, on the other hand, is owned a very reasonable $27 and $29 million over the next two seasons. Two years for approximately the price of Durant’s age-37 season.

Acquiring Durant would require more than a one-for-one offer, too. More money would have to be added, which likely means more players would have to be added. And not players like Aaron Nesmith or Daniel Theis. The rotation that just helped Boston to the NBA Finals would be severely impacted. We certainly wouldn’t be having this conversation if Boston didn’t beat themselves with turnovers in the best-of-seven series.

And that’s why, while the Celtics have every right to kick the tires on an asking price, Boston ultimately should be careful in trade talks with Brooklyn.

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