Over the past week, there has been ample NBA speculation radiating from the ESPN report that the Celtics and Nets had discussed a deal for Kevin Durant, and how that report would affect the mindset of Boston star Jaylen Brown, who was the primary trade chip mentioned going to Brooklyn in such a deal.
Brown would be infuriated, many said. Longtime Celtics beat writer A. Sherrod Blakely quoted an East scout saying, “Jaylen won’t let this affect his play, but he won’t forget this, either.” The implication there was that when Brown hit free agency in 2024, he’d be looking to bolt. When Brown tweeted, “Smh,” seemingly in response to the rumors, it was taken as a sign that he was angry about the situation.
Heavy Sports’ Steve Bulpett, who has covered the Celtics for 37 years, isn’t buying it. In a video chat this week, he said, “I find that kind of speculation a little weird, let’s go read minds based on three letters.”
When it comes to how Brown will adjust going into next season, Bulpett said the Celtics really just need to do one thing to smooth over the Brown relationship: win.
Winning Can Cure All Celtics Ills
Certainly, when Brown sent out the “Smh” tweet, he knew well it be seized upon by the NBA’s observer class. It is reasonable to assume he was not happy, but, Bulpett points out, we don’t know exactly with whom he is unhappy.
“He knows it is going to be interpreted a thousand different ways,” Bulpett said. “He knows it could mean he might have been told by the Celtics two days before, ‘Hey, there’s nothing going on here,’ and he could be saying this stuff has no basis that is being floated out there. Or it could mean that he’s upset about it. It could mean five other things as well.”
But if the Celtics come out this season on the same kind of tear they were on when last year ended, and if they can avoid the early-season struggles that had the NBA world wondering if Brown could play with Jayson Tatum, all this will be forgotten.
“How the relationship is going forward is going to be largely based on how the team is doing,” Bulpett said. “At the start of the year and into January, things weren’t going well and guys were talking and guys were frustrated. To say things have been perfect with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum all along is to ignore the fact that these two guys were saying, ‘We’re talking with each other, we need to find a way to play off of each other better, to help each other.’ If things were perfect all along there would be no need for those conversations.
“If the Celtics go into the year with the team they have now essentially and they are winning three out of every four games, life is going to be good.”
NBA GM Compares Brown Situation to Klay Thompson
Bulpett’s sentiment jibes with the thought of one Eastern Conference GM who spoke with Heavy Sports this week and compared the situation to what happened in Golden State in 2014, when the Warriors were on the verge of trading Klay Thompson for Kevin Love. Coach Steve Kerr and some others stepped in, though, imploring the team to keep Thompson, who was not happy about being on the chopping block.
The Warriors went out and won a championship, though, and only rarely was the Love-for-Thompson non-trade ever mentioned again.
“Klay Thompson was in trade talks, more than once,” he said. “The Warriors win a championship, and that all went away. The Celtics can just say, ‘Hey, we did not trade you for Kevin Durant, you’re our guy.’ It can be smoothed over.”