According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics have emerged as a suitor for Kevin Durant. Last month when Durant publicly requested a trade, we took a look at potential teams that could be interested in him and pointed out how he would be the best player in the modern era to be traded since Shaquille O’Neal. After the Utah Jazz received four first-round picks for Rudy Gobert, that likely now serves as somewhat of a floor for the type of return the Nets would demand for Durant.
All-Star forward Jaylen Brown is reportedly the centerpiece of the Celtics’ package, which alone should make Brooklyn extremely interested. We take a look at what a potential deal could look like and what it would mean for both Boston and Brooklyn.
Boston's offer and what it means for both teams
Shams Charania followed up Wojnarowski’s report with a trade proposal from the Celtics which includes Brown, Derrick White, and a draft pick. He adds that the Nets are demanding Marcus Smart, more draft picks, and potentially an additional rotation player.
In our most recent Trade Value Rankings list, we voted Durant 8th in the league and Brown 17th. He would be the best individual player and the player with the highest trade value the Nets could potentially get out of all their other most serious suitors. The Suns and Heat aren’t expected to offer Devin Booker or Bam Adebayo for Durant, and including them would add complications due to the designated rookie rule.
The Raptors have been in the mix, but their viability could fall on their willingness to include Scottie Barnes. The rookie of the year ranked 30th on the Trade Value Rankings and could become a perennial All-Star very soon. One can view the reporting of Boston’s offer as a means to potentially drum up Durant’s trade market, which doesn’t seem to include offers featuring both an All-Star caliber player and three-to-four first-round picks. While the Celtics’ offer is the closest thing to that type of return, it’s unclear if the Raptors would change their stance knowing the possibility that the Finals runner-ups might be close to acquiring Durant.
In our analysis of Durant’s potential suitors, the Celtics weren’t even mentioned. The possibility of them trading Brown fresh off a Finals run could seem unnecessary and risky to some. Brown is only entering his age-26 season and is one of the best two-way forwards in the league. Brown has been much more durable than the soon-to-turn 34-years-old Durant over the past few seasons, and could very well surpass him in skill and impact within the next four years.
One reason that could motivate the Celtics to pursue a Durant trade is if they have an indication that Brown isn’t long for Boston. Brown will be extension-eligible on October 1, 2022 for a base of $110.8 million. He will almost certainly not sign it since it is way below his market value, and he should command maximum level offers when he becomes a free agent in 2024. He also still has a chance to qualify for the supermax over the next two years if he earns All-NBA honors, but only with the Celtics.
The Celtics need to send $35.2 million in outgoing salary to match for Durant in a trade. Including Brown and either White or Smart gets them there. They are currently projected to have a $59 million luxury tax payment once they reach 15 players. Trading that package for Durant would keep their projected penalty in that same range.
If this offer is truly on the table, Brown’s inclusion alone should make it very appealing for Brooklyn. The idea of extending their window with an All-Star eight years younger than Durant merits a serious discussion even if he never requested a trade. Assuming they were to receive Brown and one of White or Smart, their luxury tax payment would remain in their currently projected $95 million range.