Until such time as Kevin Durant is traded or he and the Nets broker an uneasy peace, there is one blaring reason the Celtics are destined to remain a part of the public discourse.
“Jaylen Brown is the single best player we’ve heard tied to this thing, so Brooklyn has to keep that alive,” one league executive told Heavy Sports. “I still don’t know how real that is, and, trust me, we’ve been trying to find out for our own sake.
“There may be nothing there at all, or maybe there’s something if Brooklyn gets back to reality with what they’re asking for. But unless they can find another deal for Durant or they work things out with him, a team like Boston is stuck in this — the rumors and the whispers around the league at least — because they’ve got really good players.
“I’m sure Brad (Stevens, president of basketball operations) has talked to Brown and they’re all cool, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t going to be uncomfortable.”
A ranking exec from another club very interested in this process continues to believe the KD-Nets matter could take weeks or even months to be resolved.
“Unless something comes out of nowhere that we haven’t heard or expected, we could be waiting this out,” he said. “I think all of us would just like this over one way or another, but that’s going to depend on the (Nets’) owner.
“The difference between this situation and almost everything else is that we’re talking about Kevin f***ing Durant. With just about everything else, you hear what Brooklyn wants and you walk away. But because it’s KD, you kind of have to stay at the table and see how things play out — see if Brooklyn changes what they want or what they’ll accept.”
NBA Exec: Brown Is ‘All-in on Boston’
As regards Brown, the question has been floated publicly and around the league as to his feelings on a future with the Celtics beyond the two years remaining on the extension he signed in 2019.
“I think Jaylen IS long term,” this latter source told Heavy. “If they want him long term and they’re going to pay him the contract he deserves, I think he’s all-in on Boston. From everything I’ve been told, Jaylen’s a loyal guy. I know frustration can happen when things aren’t going well, and I think we saw some of that earlier in this past season.
“But when you take a step back and look at things, I think he wants to be there. And any problems that could ever happen with that relationship would probably have to come from him getting the idea that they’re not in on him. And right now I don’t see that from the Celtics. I think they know what they have in Jaylen — now and for the future — and they want to keep that going.
“But, like I said, it’s Kevin f***ing Durant, and you know Brooklyn is going to want to talk about Jaylen. Even if stuff about trade talks wasn’t getting leaked and reported, anyone with a brain would know that Jaylen’s name is going to come up at some point if they’re talking to Boston.”
Scout: Jaylen Brown Is ‘Upper Echelon’
The opinion of Brown around the NBA is impressive — not just for what he is now, but for what the league’s evaluators expect. Echoing a common view, one scout said, “He’s GOT to fix his handle, and maybe that’s just about making better decisions in traffic. But he’s, what, 25? Look at how much he’s improved. He’s definitely not one of those guys who plateaus, who reaches a certain point and gets all satisfied.”
A prominent Eastern Conference exec amplified that point and brought Brown’s wing-mate Jayson Tatum into the picture.
“I’m not sure he’s in that top group with Giannis and KD and those people,” he said of Brown, “but he’s certainly in the upper echelon of players in this league. And the thing about Jaylen is that he’s still getting better.
“He’s high level at both ends of the court, which is something you really look at with a guy who can score, because not all people who can put up numbers are as invested as he is on the defensive end. And Boston’s been successful with him, with both those guys. Tatum and Brown have been the top guys on a team that’s competing for a championship.
“I used to laugh when I heard people suggesting they should break them up. For what? I mean, there’s very few players who are untradeable, but it would take a lot — I mean, a lot — for me to break that up. Now, if you’re talking about someone like Kevin Durant, then that’s a discussion you at least have to have within your team. I’m not saying you end up doing it, but you’re not doing your job if you don’t have that conversation internally.”