When a scintillating Celtics season ended in heartbreak two weeks ago, the consensus was that they wouldn’t need to do anything drastic to return to this point once again and ultimately take it one step further.
Perhaps some bench scoring would help, or maybe they could add a point guard (see: Malcolm Brogdon) or big, but they had just about everything necessary to contend for years to come. Those were much simpler times.
Suddenly, when Kevin Durant became available, fans irrationally decided it makes sense to give the Nets everything the Celtics have.
Take Jaylen Brown. Take Robert Williams. Take my first-born. Take my house. Take my jet. Just get me Kevin Durant.
No one expects fans to be rational, especially in the offseason, but this narrative has gotten even more ridiculous than most. The Celtics should not trade for Kevin Durant. It’s that simple.
First, and most importantly, there’s no way they would be able to land him without giving up Jaylen Brown, either Marcus Smart or Robert Williams, potentially another role player or two and perhaps a pick or two. It’s too much, and it doesn’t benefit them long term. Having a chance to win now is nice, but oh right, they already have that. Having a chance to win long term is even better, and acquiring the soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant could seriously hurt them in that regard.
What happened to watching Brown and Jayson Tatum ascend from baby-faced rookies to NBA champions? They’re right on schedule, and they’re getting closer and closer. Breaking them up now would feel wrong.
It would be like watching a great movie and wondering how it ends and then suddenly it switches to a different movie and the plot changes entirely. The new ending itself could be better, but it won’t mean as much without what came before it.
Recent history tells us as much. When Durant joined the Warriors, the basketball was beautiful, but the storyline suffered. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green already had one ring. How many more could they get? Durant was like a cheat code, and it almost seemed unfair. Championships are championships, but you know part of Curry and Co. wonders what would have happened if Durant never came.
Another reason, of course, is age. Brown is 25. Durant’s prime seems limitless in a way, but the reality is that it’ll end sometime relatively soon. Then what happens? The Celtics are stuck with a disgruntled player at the tail end of his career wondering what to do about that contract. Durant’s injury history is also a concern, as Brown is generally more durable.
The move also doesn’t make sense for Durant, either. He had his chance to play in Boston five years ago and managed to resist Kelly Olynyk’s hair and good nature. Oh, and Tom Brady. Olynyk and Brady are both out of Boston, so all hope may be lost now.
Durant appears to have no interest in the city, and that’s OK. It’s his life. Better fits include his preferred destinations of Phoenix and Miami (doesn’t seem like he enjoys cold weather, huh?), plus the Bulls, Grizzlies and Mavericks, among others.
Another reason it’s not an ideal fit is that Tatum and Durant are almost too similar as players. They both need the ball a lot, and the offense could get more stagnant than it otherwise would with both on the court. Three of the last four champions (Raptors, Bucks and Warriors) have had one clear superstar and a perfect core around them. It’s not always about assembling the most talent. As Brad Stevens often says, it’s about putting the right talent together.
Bringing in Durant would stunt Tatum’s growth. Tatum thrives as the clear alpha and fares better when he knows a team fully believes in him. Brown shines as the typical No. 2 option and sprinkles in spectacular games as the go-to guy himself. He was the Celtics’ best player in The Finals, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted or brushed aside.
Don’t tempt fate and risk something special for something unknown. It’s not worth it. The pieces are in place, and momentum has been building for years, and it would be unwise to change course now.