Those including Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown in trade speculation should put it to rest.
The Celtics would be stupid if they traded Brown, a budding two-way talent who’s not even 26 years old, regardless if it was done to acquire high-level superstars like Kevin Durant or Bradley Beal. Durant reportedly is seriously mulling over his future with the Brooklyn Nets — perhaps that’s changed with Kyrie Irving opting into his player option — while Beal has yet to sign his next contract with the Washington Wizards.
Teams all over the league salivate at the potential to acquire players like Durant and Beal. But teams all over the league also search for players like Brown.
Brown’s continued to improve each season and possesses the mental makeup that makes it fair to assume he will do so again entering the 2022-23 campaign. He’s, again, just 25 years old. The Celtics have two of the best players in the NBA at 25 or younger with First Team All-NBA selection Jayson Tatum complementing Brown. A majority of NBA teams now enter the offseason envying the position the Celtics find themselves in. Those teams want Boston’s recipe. And Brown’s current skillset and long-term potential are key reasons behind that.
Now, this isn’t to say that Brown currently is the caliber of player as someone like Durant. Durant is on a different playing field than all but a few as one of the top-5 talents in the league. But there’s more to it than just that — a simple one-for-one swap.
Brad Stevens and company undoubtedly will think about the long-term potential, and they should.
The combination of Brown and Tatum presents the potential for sustained success that Durant and Tatum might not. And it’s not as if the NBA plays out the way many think it will on paper right away. Durant could enter the fold in Boston only to not work with Tatum in the first season. And then what? Meanwhile, Green Teamers just witnessed a historic in-season turnaround with Brown and Tatum that propelled the Celtics to the NBA Finals. One Finals appearance doesn’t guarantee future trips, of course, but it hints at the potential.
It’s not often 23-, 24-, 25-year-old players lead their team to the title. It sounds simple, and to some perhaps even passive, but sometimes it really does take time. Now, after a six-game championship series against the Golden State Warriors, the Celtics have learned hard lessons. Brown and Tatum, specifically, have learned career-altering lessons. And if they do take those lessons and benefit from them, the two stars could headline a title contender for the next six, seven, eight years. Isn’t there a chance they win more in that stretch than the one or two they would be in the running for with Durant? With Durant, that window does not offer the same longevity or the same sustained success. Durant, after all, is 34 years old and has missed time in each of the last two seasons due to injury.
As if that doesn’t present a big enough factor, the finances will play a massive role in the team’s construction should Brown’s contract be traded away and one of the other two superstars’ deals acquired.
Brown has two years left on a very reasonable pact. He is owned approximately $27 and $29 million during each of the next two seasons before he is set to become a free agent entering his age-28 campaign. Durant is owed $194 million over the next four years — he’ll earn $53 million in his age-37 season! — while Beal likely will be signing a five-year contract worth $248 million. Beal is expected to decline his player option for the upcoming season, and while it may be unlikely, he still could seek a trade from Washington after securing the biggest possible payday.
Those types of contracts aren’t one-for-one with Brown. More money will need to be added. And let’s not act like the Nets or Wizards would be happy with bench players like Daniel Theis, Grant Williams or Aaron Nesmith. At that point, perhaps Marcus Smart is added? Or maybe Robert Williams? That’s a lot to give up for any player… even Durant.
The speculation of a Brown-Durant trade has come about with Durant reportedly considering his options in Brooklyn. And there are a handful of analysts, specifically Celtics analyst Brian Scalabrine, who have shared their beliefs on why Boston should go all in on Durant.
But for more reasons than one it feels like the Celtics would be making a mistake by doing so.