NBA executive thinks Jaylen Brown is ‘all-in’ on Celtics
Jaylen Brown and Mayor Wu attend Roxbury v Dorchester basketball game
As we do our best to make sense of each baffling new Kevin Durant rumor – KD Asks Steve Nash To Coach The Nets…KD Wants To Play With Marcus Smart…KD Might Be Cool To Reunite With James Harden In Philadelphia — let me ask you a request, Celtics fans.
Think for a moment, if you will, about why you fell and fell hard for last year’s team. Think of the 2021-22 Celtics’ most enjoyable features as they rose from the hardwood after a 25-25 start, won 26 of their last 32 regular season games, wiped out the defending champion Nets Bucks and still- boring Heat in the playoffs before falling to two NBA title wins against the Noble Warriors.
I can’t imagine too much memory is needed to remember these reasons. They stayed together for 50 games of mediocrity. They listened to their coach. They liked to play together. They did not publicly seek individual credit or lament that they did not have enough. They didn’t give up or look for a way out when a situation didn’t go their way.
Now let me ask you another question: does this sound like Durant’s kind of scene?
The longer Durant’s standoff with the Nets lasts over his late June trade request, the more convinced I become that the Celtics should have nothing to do with him, even though he really wants a lot to do with them.
Oh, the thought of Durant in green is intriguing. Tempting, even, at least on the surface. The Celtics’ reported proposal to the Nets — Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a first-round pick — is the kind of steep package it would have to take to acquire, what, one of the 12 greatest players in league history. ?
At 33 – he turns 34 in September – Durant is still essentially unstoppable as a goalscorer. He averaged 29.9 points per game last year, more than 2 points above his career average, while shooting 51.8 percent from the field. Only the elite among the elite can score in such volume with this kind of efficiency.
Durant is also a smart player and an underrated defender and rim protector. It’s been a privilege to watch his entire career, although I think we all know that in a fair world he would have been a lifelong Seattle SuperSonic.
In a way, I guess it would be appropriate for him to finally end up with the Celtics 15 years after Danny Ainge coveted him and damn close to getting him out of Texas, let alone six years since Durant somehow resisted Kelly Olynyk’s recruiting pitch in the free. agency.
Like I said, intriguing. Tempting.
But then you start thinking about how Durant has conducted himself in his career, especially over the past few years.
After the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City following his rookie season, he spent the next eight seasons with the Thunder before heading to free agency after the 2015–16 season. No problem with that. Pretty loyal of him, actually. He signed with the Warriors, who had just missed out on another title. Nothing wrong with that either. Who wouldn’t want to play with these guys? Durant and the Warriors won the NBA title in his first two seasons there. It felt like a dream come true.
Then he collapsed. He bickered with Draymond Green. He tore his Achilles tendon in the 2018-19 Finals loss to the Raptors. This is where his judgment started to veer. Rumor has it that he realized the Warriors would always be Curry’s first team in the eyes of the fans, as if Curry – who in my mind would be the third most fun player in league history NBA who to play with, after Larry and Magic, of course – had no control over that. Then, Durant hitched his wagon to accomplished team wrecker Kyrie Irving and joined the Nets.
And now, two years later, he wants out and/or the coach is gone? The guy is involved in more botched power plays than last year’s Bruins.
Anyone who suggests that acquiring Durant would be akin to trading Kevin Garnett before the 2007-08 season had better realize that not all lanky superstars named Kevin are created equal. This Celtics team became champions largely because Garnett didn’t care how many touches he got or who got the most praise. He put winning first. Maybe Durant too. But he will be the first to seek praise.
Durant could improve the Celtics’ championship chances in the short term – maybe for this season, maybe for two if he remains healthier than he has been recently.
But that’s not his story. Or, it shouldn’t be.
The Celtics were two wins away from the title last year, and they added ideal complementary players in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Bringing Durant in and sending Jaylen Brown (a flawed but conscientious All-Star who comes back a little better every year) and Marcus Smart (heart, guts and various other body parts) would upset the delicate balance of a well-constructed roster. . This is the team Boston wants to ride with. Fans here connect with passionate and dedicated players – something, by the way, that Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox seem determined to find out the hard way but the Celtics understand.
Celtics fans want to see Jayson Tatum and Brown and Smart and Al Horford and Rob Williams win together. He wants to see players who have had their ups and downs, but who continue to work and move forward individually and in unison, to earn their reward. These Celtics have a shot at being champions, and it’s a shot they deserve to see through.
It’s interesting to think about trading Brown, Smart and matched picks — the Nets’ asking price — for Durant. But once you think about it long enough, it’s easy to dismiss it.
Durant is a terrific player. One all-weather, and one with a few quality miles left. But his recent behavior suggests he’s the antithesis of what the Celtics are doing here.
He’s not Kevin Garnett, The Sequel. He’s a perpetually dissatisfied guy whose so-called “super team” was used to clean the floor in the first round last spring by the team he supposedly wants to join.
The Celtics don’t need favorites. They worked so hard to get to their favorite place in this race. The least they deserve is a chance to reach the finish line on their own.
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