Superstar forward Kevin Durant has officially requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, after a season that concluded with him and Kyrie Irving being swept in the first round by the Boston Celtics. The Celtics were able to make a run to the NBA Finals in a clash with a well-seasoned Golden State Warriors team. Boston at one point held a 2-1 lead in the series with a chance to go up 3-1 at home, but the championship grit of the Warriors was too much for the young Celtics to overcome as they dropped three straight games.
Despite Jayson Tatum winning the Eastern Conference Finals MVP award, it was Jaylen Brown’s star that shined the brightest for the Celtics in the NBA Finals. Per Stat Muse, he averaged 23. 5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in six games.
But despite Brown’s impressive performance on basketball’s biggest stage, the Celtics have another level to reach if they hope to one day become champions. Joe Vardon of “The Athletic” says that next level could come in the form of 12-time All-Star Kevin Durant, but it would also mean parting ways with Brown.
“To get Durant from the Nets, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens would probably have to include Jaylen Brown as a centerpiece,” Vardon writes.
“Brown has blossomed into a two-way force who averages north of 20 points and is one of the key components of the ferocious, switching defense the Celtics used to bludgeon their way up the standings last winter. He’s gone to four conference finals and now has a taste of the finals. When healthy, Durant is widely considered to be one of the best – may be the best – player in the entire league. Which, with all due respect to Brown, means Durant is the better player.”
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Heat Would Likely Have to Move Butler in Potential Durant Deal
After being one possession away from being crowned the Eastern Conference Champions, adding a player of Durant’s caliber could put the Miami Heat in a position to win it all in 2023. But in any trade involving the Heat, the Nets would not be able to acquire All-Star big man Bam Adebayo from Miami because he and Ben Simmons are both on rookie max extensions.
To get Adebayo back in a trade, Brooklyn would have to convince the Heat front office to take on Simmons’ max contract, knowing he has not played in an NBA game since last June. For that reason, Vardon says that swapping Jimmy Butler for Durant seems to be a more feasible option for both teams.
“Unless the Nets trade Simmons, the Heat’s path to getting Durant may mean a trade package with Butler at its center,” Vardon adds.
“Relations between the franchise and Butler improved dramatically from March when an ugly blow-up on the bench between Butler and Spoelstra included challenges issued for fights and Spoelstra slamming his clipboard as Butler walked back onto the court. Those relations improved because Butler carried Miami to the brink of the finals. He scored 47 points in Game 6 in Boston and was brilliant again in Game 7, coming so close to winning that game on his last shot.”
Spurs Could Be Third Team to Push Irving, Lakers Trade Forward
Kyrie Irving could also be on the move from the Nets after a tumultuous 2021-22 season where he played just 29 games. Multiple reports have suggested his interest in joining the Los Angele Lakers, but the two sides have been unable to come to an agreement thus far. But NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski says that the San Antonio Spurs getting involved as a third team in the deal could be the key to pushing the trade forward.
“The Nets have talked with the Lakers and I believe there has been back-and-forth, some communication. You look at where there’s cap space right now and a team like San Antonio could be a facilitator right now in let’s say a Russell Westbrook for Kyrie Irving deal between the teams,” Wojnarowski said.
“They have the cap space. Now, you have to incentivize them at a pretty high level and I think that’s the willingness of the Lakers to incentivize a deal with multiple draft picks. I think that’s part of the reason that the deal hasn’t gone anywhere yet.”
The Nets’ future continues to hang in limbo as the futures of Irving and Durant remain uncertain. It will be interesting to see what the roster looks like heading into training camp.