Former NBA executive Ryan McDonough, who spent a decade with the Celtics and worked his way up to assistant general manager under Danny Ainge, even predicted Monday night on Twitter that Boston ultimately will acquire Durant in exchange for Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart or Robert Williams III and draft compensation (picks and/or swaps).
This obviously would be a gamble by the Celtics, who just lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games in the NBA Finals. Brown is entering his age-26 season, whereas Durant will turn 34 in September. Plus, the latter comes with both injury concerns and off-court baggage when you consider how things have played out with the Nets, the Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That said, it sure sounds like a trade is becoming inevitable. Durant gave Nets owner Joe Tsai an ultimatum that he needs to choose between him and the pairing of general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. And Tsai tweeted Monday night that Brooklyn’s front office and coaching staff has his support.
Perhaps this development will open the door for Boston to land Durant, a 12-time All-Star and still one of the best players on the planet, controversy aside.
“I think it’s a realistic possibility at this point,” McDonough said Monday on NBC Sports Boston. “I think what Kevin Durant did over the weekend, meeting with Nets owner Joe Tsai, he doubled down on his earlier trade request. You guys remember, that happened just at the end of June — right before free agency started — and in a lot of ways it overshadowed free agency, because this year wasn’t the most exciting free agent class. Now, KD has doubled down.
“The situation’s obviously changed a little bit. Phoenix, by re-signing Deandre Ayton, matching the offer sheet with Indiana, they’re probably out of the equation in the short term. So, I do think the Celtics are the frontrunners. And I think if Kevin Durant is traded out of Brooklyn, the best package is from Boston, with Jaylen Brown plus other considerations.”
Charania on Monday identified the Celtics as being among the “most significant candidates” to acquire Durant — along with the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat — and noted Boston’s trade package involving Brown is viewed as a viable deal.
So, for now, the KD saga continues, with Boston front and center — for better or worse.