Celtics Superstar Emerging in Trade Talks for Potential Nets-Kevin Durant Divorce: Report

Brooklyn Nets

Getty Marcus Smart #36, Jaylen Brown #7, and Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics.

The Brooklyn Nets (32-20) traded Kyrie Irving with the intention of keeping Kevin Durant receiving Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith in return along with draft compensation. Per ESPN NBA analyst, Stephen A. Smith, they might not be done and could be going big game hunting with their next move.

“By the way, I’m hearing that [Durant]’s on the verge of potentially being moved,” reported Smith during a discussion on what comes next for Brooklyn following the Irving trade on ESPN’s ‘First Take’ on February 6. “Obviously, we’ve all been speculating about that – that he may be moved. They’re on the phone, I’m hearing Boston is making some calls. Keep your eye on Jaylen Brown. Keep your eye on that.”

Previous reporting from Smith’s ESPN colleague, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that there was “far more interest” in trading for Durant than there was for Irving.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Phoenix Suns were among them.

Phoenix along with Boston and the Toronto Raptors were among the teams most heavily linked to Durant during his trade demand over the summer. There were talks with the Suns but the Nets did not view center Deandre Ayton as worth taking on his four-year, $133 million contract.

The Nets asked for Brown and Celtics cornerstone, Jayson Tatum signaling they were never really interested in trading Durant. But Boston was considered to be the leader in the clubhouse for the 13-time All-Star’s services.

Brooklyn Wanted A Lot From Boston

“Among the executives with whom I spoke, a Boston deal with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece appears to be the unofficial front-runner here,” reported Sam Amick of The Athletic at the height of the Durant frenzy in mid-August – nearly one month after it was reported by Amick’s colleague, Shams Charania, that the Celtics had already offered the two-time All-Star in a deal.

At the time, it was reported talks broke down over a key asset.

“The Celtics offered Brown, guard Derrick White and a draft pick to the Nets for Durant,” Charania reported. “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…Currently, the Celtics are less inclined to include Smart along with multiple other player assets or pick assets, but the franchise is mulling over next steps on how to approach discussions.”

It is unclear if Boston would be amenable to including Smart – who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since January 21 – in any deal for Durant this time around or if they would still be willing to offer Brown with the Celtics once again atop the Eastern Conference standings.

Interestingly, Brown has grown close with Irving in the time since they clashed as teammates on the Celtics in the former’s first two NBA seasons.

Jaylen Brown’s Breakout Complicates Matters

It might be different if Brown, 26, had shown signs of plateauing in this his seventh NBA season out of the University of California. He has not done that to this point averaging a career-high 27 points on 58.8% true shooting with 7.1 assists, and 5.9 rebounds – all career-best marks for the former third-overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Brown is in the third year of a four-year, $106 million contract that will see him hit unrestricted free agency in 2024.

He did not seem to appreciate all of the rumors in real-time.

It probably will not be any easier to deal with at this point in time, though the ‘First Take’ panel agreed that Durant’s situation is more likely to be addressed in the offseason rather than ahead of the trade deadline on February 9.