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Report: Celtics emerge as ‘real threat’ to trade for Kevin Durant

The Celtics are firmly in the mix of teams trying to land Kevin Durant.

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Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game Three

It’s been almost a month since Kevin Durant made his trade request, and we’re still no closer to a deal happening. The Nets are rightly maintaining a huge asking price, what with Durant’s status as one of the best players in NBA history with four years left on his contract, and no teams around the league seem to be offering enough yet.

We’ve heard of Durant’s original interest in playing for teams like the Suns and Heat, while the Raptors have also frequently been in rumors as one of the top teams interested in pursuing the Nets’ superstar. Now, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, there’s another franchise in the mix: the Boston Celtics.

Of course, any team in the NBA would be interested in adding Durant if they can afford to, but the Celtics have “emerged among teams engaged in talks on a possible deal,” according to Wojnarowski. He added that the Celtics are no closer to landing Durant than any other team involved in discussions, but they have been in regular contact with the Nets:

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.

Wojnarowski mentioned that “there are no deals believed to have traction for Durant.” The Nets aren’t lowering their asking price. As Wojnarowski reiterated, they want a haul including multiple unprotected first-round picks, pick swaps, and “impactful players”. He also reported that (unsurprisingly) Jayson Tatum is unavailable in trade talks.

Shortly after Wojnarowski’s story dropped, The Athletic’s Shams Charania provided another update. He reported that the Celtics “have emerged as a real threat to acquire Durant,” and they’ve made the Nets an offer including Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a pick. But the Nets at least want Marcus Smart and picks (emphasis on the plural there, rather than Boston’s offered “pick”) to be added to that kind of package:

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 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.

Again, Charania also noted that no deal for Durant is imminent. That element of his reporting certainly matches with Wojnarowski as the Nets insist teams improve their offers.

It’s no surprise that the Celtics offering Jaylen Brown would make them a real threat to land Durant, which is a scary thought for the rest of the Eastern Conference. They were already deep with dangerous talent, led by Jayson Tatum and elite defense in their run to this year’s Finals. They got even better and even deeper this offseason by adding Malcolm Brogdon for hardly anything. If they lose some valuable defense but elevate their offense with Durant alongside Tatum, there’s no doubt they’d have a great shot at a championship next season.

Ultimately, while the Celtics are more involved in talks now and can put together some eye-catching offers, it still sounds like we’re no closer to a Durant deal actually happening. The Celtics would still need to up their offer a fair bit by adding Smart, more picks, and maybe another rotation player.

It looks like the wait for a trade will be continuing for some time.