Naturally, the Kevin Durant trade saga came to a disappointing conclusion earlier this week when the NBA star chose to stay with the Brooklyn Nets despite his team’s feeble efforts to fulfill his trade request. Funny enough, the Boston Celtics may have been the club most impacted by the revelation rather than the Brooklyn Nets, as they were also caught up in the aftermath of Durant’s retracted ultimatum.
Jaylen Brown, who was at the core of the most well-known trade idea, including Durant, is where it all begins. The Celtics reportedly made the Nets a preliminary offer for Durant that included Derrick White, Antonio Brown, and a first-round draft selection. White was replaced by Marcus Smart at the request of the Nets, and that was the end of it.
However, the news broke during the NBA offseason’s deadest period, putting Brown at the center of unwanted attention. It was enough that club president Brad Stevens appeared on the local radio show WEEI to try to mitigate the unintended consequences of Tuesday’s news.
“Jaylen has been through this from the position of hearing, and the noise has been around him for a long time, with famous names over the years,” Stevens said in his interview. In my opinion, you need to be able to tune out the noise and recognize what’s crucial.
It sounds as if the team is relieved rather than disappointed that the Durant talks, such as they were, are over. The majority of Celtics supporters would probably concur, and Boston Michelle Wu encapsulated the opinions of her voters in a single tweet.
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There are good basketball reasons to believe that Boston would be better off remaining put, despite the counterintuitive reaction to passing up a future Hall of Famer and MVP contender.
Just a few months prior, the Celtics were two victories away from a championship and began free agency by making many moves to upgrade their roster without giving up any crucial players. For the Celtics to trade Brown (along with other key pieces) for Durant—who was older, more expensive, and had already missed a significant amount of time due to injury the season before—made less sense in this situation.
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The opposition to a Brown-Durant trade, though, wasn’t wholly rational; feelings played a role. Brown, who was chosen by the Celtics, has emerged over the past few seasons as the team’s most reliable player. Brown has established himself as a member of a homegrown core with a real chance to win a championship very shortly, along with Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams, and Smart.
Sports still allow for some sentimentality. In the eyes of many, the fact that Durant is a much better player than Brown when healthy only matters so much in this specific equation. Even if Boston had found a way to buy Durant outright, the fan base would have been strongly opposed.
One explanation for this is that the effects of the Isaiah Thomas for Kyrie Irving transaction are still being felt. The view of the Celtics in the league shifted when Danny Ainge, Stevens’ predecessor, moved away from Thomas after the point guard persevered through a tragedy in his personal life and a career-altering injury. How could a team that did not respect loyalty expect the same from its players?
Before Irving turned out to be a bad clubhouse fit, Brown was already in the clubhouse at the time of the Thomas trade and was not a fan. According to Complex’s Adam Caparell, he said, “It’s difficult because of the industry we work in.” “Am I in favor of it? No, not always. Whether justified or not, it’s reasonable that some people prematurely worry that the Durant trade rumors increased Brown’s likelihood of leaving in two years during free agency.
We don’t know how Jaylen Brown’s relationship with the Celtics will be affected by the Kevin Durant trade rumors.
So, in Boston, all is not well that ends well. If the Nets had moved the superstar out of the Atlantic Division, it would have been much simpler for the Celtics (preferably to the Western Conference). These “better off without him” arguments will be the subject of well-deserved ridicule if Durant’s Nets defeat the Celtics in the 2017 playoffs.
However, Boston was unable to take any action that would have assured them of Banner 18. In the absence of such assurance, it’s difficult to hold it against those of us who would prefer the Celtics to try to win a championship with their players and fall short than get rid of their core and give the team’s reins to a talented outsider.