The Kevin Durant trade saga has been at a standstill for some time now. Durant can try to make the Nets uncomfortable and force them into a move, but with ownership standing strong, staying patient, and (understandably) not giving in to accept any offers below their high asking price, there’s been no real progress in a trade coming together.
However, as The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported this morning, there does seem to be one team in the Durant sweepstakes with an offer that has them in the lead: the Boston Celtics. Right now, a package built around Jaylen Brown, who has already been offered for Durant, seems to be the top offer:
Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here. In general terms, sources say the Nets are using the fact that the Celtics (and perhaps other teams) have made their second-best player available as a baseline of sorts in negotiations. Translation: If you’re still trying to discuss a Durant deal without putting your second-best talent on the table, then just stop wasting everyone’s time and bow out of this race.
There’s a real argument to be made that Tyrese Maxey could be the more intriguing player for the Nets to acquire in such a trade. He’s four years younger than Brown, on a rookie contract for two more years and will be cheaper and far easier to keep via restricted free agency for years beyond that, and obviously has serious potential when you consider his rapid growth in just two years and relentless work ethic. Maxey could help the Sixers put together quite a good offer for Durant if they were ever willing to include him.
That said, Brown is still only 25 years old, improving, and the better player right now. Plus, he has the simple benefit of being a 6-foot-6 wing, giving him the kind of positional versatility the league values that a small guard like Maxey can’t match. Not to mention the Celtics have the ability to include more draft picks and better complementary players (such as Marcus Smart or Derrick White).
Ultimately, if the Nets are after the “second-best talent” from a contender as the headliner of their haul, Brown plus some of the Celtics’ extra assets make sense. If that’s really how the Nets feel, the Sixers may end up out of the running for Durant.
If trade talks don’t ramp up over the next month, Durant still has some options to pressure the Nets. He could hold out of training camp or even sit out games at the start of next season. According to Amick’s latest article, though, most people he’s spoken to around the league don’t think Durant will go that far.
Either way, for now we just have to keep waiting — wondering if/when a trade will actually happen this offseason and which team’s offer is truly in the lead. In this saga’s current sleepy state, it sounds like the Celtics are unsurprisingly in the best spot.