The Boston Celtics have been among the top teams mentioned in Kevin Durant trade rumors as of late. On the surface, it makes sense. They could offer Jaylen Brown in a trade package, and that should be a great start to getting a deal done, right?
It hasn't been so simple for the Celtics in their efforts to trade for Durant when considering they were asked to include both Jayson Tatum and Brown in initial conversations. Boston clearly isn't going to do that.
There has been hesitancy from the Celtics to even part with certain role players they value to trade for Durant, too. Between reports of being unwilling to include Robert Williams III or Marcus Smart, Boston has yet to construct a trade package the Nets deem worthy.
Currently, it appears unlikely the Celtics will be the team to trade for Durant. In fact, it may be challenging for any team to get a deal done soon unless the Nets drop their asking price significantly.
What can't be changed is that Brown's name was in trade rumors despite being a key element to the Celtics' run to the 2022 NBA Finals. Brown, who is entering the third of a four-year contract, is set to reach unrestricted free agent after the 2023-24 season.
It becomes all the more interesting when account for teams like the Toronto Raptors not including Scottie Barnes in trade conversations for Durant. The Miami Heat haven't thrown Bam Adebayo into the mix either.
One NBA executive told Heavy.com's Steve Bulpett that Brown seems to be 'all-in' on playing for the Celtics long-term despite hearing his name in Durant trade conversations. Even if there will be potential short-term frustrations.
“I think Jaylen IS long term,” the executive told Heavy.com’s Bulpett. “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.”
Part of the situation with the Celtics' trade interest that benefits the Nets is that Brown appears to be the top individual talent included in trade conversations for Durant, to this point. Keeping that storyline active benefits Brooklyn. Regardless, the situation still could be 'uncomfortable' for Brown.
“Jaylen Brown is the single best player we’ve heard tied to this thing, so Brooklyn has to keep that alive,” the executive told Bulpett. “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.”
All of this leads us to an intriguing question for the San Antonio Spurs: can they make a run at Brown in the future?
The Spurs have maintained a massive amount of salary cap space and are bound to have one of the league's worst records next season as they begin a rebuild. The end result should be the arrival of a potential franchise-cornerstone from the 2023 NBA Draft in what is considered a loaded class.
It remains unlikely for the Spurs to be significant improved yet by the following season (2023-24) either. The Western Conference is only getting more and more powerful and teams like the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder will have aged a bit to where they may have hit their stride.
If the Spurs maintain significant cap space as expected and add a few intriguing prospects organically through the NBA Draft, it appears they could at least offer Brown an intriguing situation to consider signing to join.
Perhaps Brown could be the featured threat in their offense depending on which players are drafted. Given that Jayson Tatum is the Celtics' top option and will remain as such for many years, it could be intriguing for Brown to venture out.
Above all else, it would only further help the Spurs' hypothetical efforts of pursuing Brown if he holds any hurt feelings over the Celtics' willingness to include him in trade conversations. Sometime, that's how major changes in the NBA start and it takes time for things to build.
You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth.
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