Kevin Durant’s trade request has been stuck in neutral ever since the superstar forward asked out of the Brooklyn Nets hours before NBA free agency opened on June 30. The Nets have understandably asked for a massive haul of players and draft picks in return for Durant, who is about to start a new four-year contract extension this season. Almost six weeks after his trade request, there has been very little momentum on a deal.
We know that Durant’s original preferred destinations were the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat, but neither has a realistic path to a deal with the Nets based on what Brooklyn is asking for. The Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics have been mentioned as likely landing spots in recent days along with the Heat. We now know which way Durant is leaning.
Durant sees Boston as a desired landing spot, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Begley notes that Durant would want to play with Marcus Smart in Boston. The Nets have reportedly asked for Smart in any potential deal. Begley also writes “Durant also sees Philadelphia as another welcome landing spot, per people familiar with the matter.”
A trade with Boston would be centered around Jaylen Brown. The Celtics reportedly offered Brown, Derrick White, and a first round pick for Durant, but Brooklyn has resisted so far.
Brooklyn’s preferred outcome is believed to be bringing back Durant and Kyrie Irving for the upcoming season. With Durant reaffirming his desire to be traded, the question will be just how much pressure the 12-time All-Star will put on Brooklyn leading up to the start of the season. Durant hasn’t ruled out holding out of training camp, per Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.
It’s possible Boston could try to build a package with Brown and Robert Williams III in a potential Durant deal. Williams is 3.5 years younger than Smart, and just played a critical role on the Celtics’ league-best defense.
How badly do the Celtics want Durant? Boston went to the NBA Finals this past season before losing to the Golden State Warriors in six games. The Celtics will be one of the favorites to win the championship next season even if they don’t land Durant. The Milwaukee Bucks are positioned to be their toughest competition in the East, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers. The West feels wide open, with the Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, and Denver Nuggets leading the pack of contenders.
No one has been sure of what Durant wants since the Suns bowed out of the trade sweepstakes as a realistic contender. Now we know he likes the idea of landing in Boston. Expect there to be more smoke on a Durant deal leading up to training camp.