The 2021-2022 Boston Celtics were two games away from winning a championship. This offseason they improved significantly by signing two players that will upgrade an already polished team. Their two top stars finally proved to the fan base that they can play together and succeed. The roster is the deepest it has been in years. Yet with all that said, there are verified reports that the organization still isn’t satisfied. They want to shake things up in a major way and add one on the greatest players to every play. And it’s a mistake.
A mistake? What? Are you telling me that trading for Kevin Durant who is a sure fire first ballot Hall of Famer, is the wrong move? Sounds crazy I know. But take a step back and think about every angle of such a possible acquisition.
First and foremost, the Celtics would have to give up A LOT to acquire Durant. Reports from the two most plugged in NBA sources, Adrian Wojnarowski and Shaims Charania, have reported that the Brooklyn Nets are asking for more than the Celtics are willing to give. Initial accounts have the Celtics offering All-Star Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and three first round picks for K.D. Reportedly, the Nets countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, an additional rotational player, along with multiple first round picks. An asking price the Celtics will never pay. Giving up Smart, White, or any other player in the rotation is one thing but also asking to subtract Brown who is 25 years old, ascending, and an All-Star, is over playing your hand. Perhaps the thinking from Brad Stevens is that with two years remaining on his contract, Brown is unlikely to re-sign when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Enhancing the appeal for Stevens might be the fact that Durant has four years left on his deal while Brown only two. Durant, however, is ten years older than Brown and three years removed from a major Achilles injury and isn’t exactly the spokesperson for loyalty when it comes to remaining with an organization. When he was a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he wanted out. After winning a few titles in Golden State, he asked for a trade. Now most recently, after joining forces with good friend Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, he once again has demanded a new home. What’s to say if Durant came to Boston he would last all four years? If the past is any indication absolutely nothing. That said, the possibility of pairing one of the best to every play alongside first team All-NBA player Jayson Tatum would make many a Celtic fan drool at the thought.
Besides Durant’s age, his injury history, and his inability to be happy anywhere, here’s the main reason the Celtics should not make this move. The Boston Celtics aren’t broken. In fact, all the way up until Game 5 of the NBA Finals they looked like a well-oiled machine poised at becoming championship contenders for years to come. Led by stars Tatum and Brown, the team finally overcame their inability to make it past the Eastern Conference Finals and came within two games of winning the whole thing. They learned how to play with each other and their teammates, while clearly establishing themselves as one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA. Additionally, Stevens addressed perhaps the team’s most glaring weakness in the offseason. Depth. Trading for playmaking guard Malcolm Brogdon and signing free agent sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari has made this Celtics team downright scary. With the ability to now go 10 deep, coach Ime Udoka has a roster that might just be the deepest and most talented in the league. Trading for Durant would certainly relinquish much of that depth and bring into question chemistry questions that currently don’t ail the team.
Regardless of what ends up happening, the Celtics are in a great position. Staying status quo will have them entering the 2022-2023 season as one of the favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. Trading for Kevin Durant will also have them entering the 2022-2023 NBA season as one of the favorites to make it back to the NBA Finals. The question Stevens must answer is whether the risk is worth the reward, and if the juice is worth the squeeze? Brown may test free agency in 2024, and current reports hint at that happening. Letting him walk without getting a return would be a massive misstep in the progress of the franchise. But that’s two years away. And what’s the rush? Brooklyn clearly doesn’t have any better offers otherwise Durant already would have been traded. Why not play the upcoming season with a team that just made the NBA Finals and subsequently made themselves better after the season? Durant likely won’t be available next off-season but if you get every indication Brown isn’t going to resign at that point, then you shop him and bring in significant talent when you cross that bridge.
Outside of Tatum and Brown as the unquestioned leaders, the rest of the roster is almost complete. Acquiring veteran Gallinari in free agency brings in a player who gives you the shooting on the outside that was desperately missed last year. Playing on the wing he also gives Udoka the ability to play Tatum and Brown less minutes. Clearly toward the end of the deep playoff run both guys were fatigued. Brogdon brings plenty to the table and offers a unique skill set that includes ball control, shot making, and playmaking. If he can stay healthy which is something he hasn’t been able to do the last couple of years, he will be a major difference maker down the stretch. Returning players like defensive player of the year Marcus Smart, point guard Derrick White, and athletic freak center Robert Williams are the perfect compliments to the aforementioned. They all provide skills that will once again help this team compete for a title. Adding the likes of Gallinari and Brogdon also give Udoka the ability to move Grant Williams and Peyton Pritchard down in the pecking order. Instead of being the 7th and 8th men off the bench, now they can be the 9th and 10th. Both Williams and Pritchard regressed in their growth as the playoffs continued, so not having to count on them as critical rotational pieces will be huge for Udoka. Veteran Al Horford will return alongside Rob Williams as the only true big men on the roster. Horford is 36 years old and last season a lot was asked of him. You just don’t know what he has left in the tank. Williams is the most injury prone player on the team and simply cannot be counted on to play every single game. Therefore, the only remaining piece missing for Stevens to attain is a backup big man. A serviceable player who can play 15-20 minutes on a nightly basis. One who can supplant Horford minutes and give him nights off, while also filling in for Williams when he undeniably is unavailable during points of the season and postseason. Bringing in a veteran to fill this role is the final step in building what appears to be not only a legitimate title contender, but perhaps the favorite.
The Celtics are tied for the most championships in NBA history and are in the best place they have been since winning it all in 2008. They have a head coach that people believe in and one that gets his players to respond. The man making all the decisions seems to have pressed all the right buttons heading into just his second year in his new role. Ownership has said they are willing to do “anything it takes” to continue to chase Banner 18 and will “die trying” to get there. The roster is deep, and the team is hungry. Getting so close to winning the whole thing last season may have made the fans appetite even bigger.