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Celtics enter Kevin Durant trade talks with offer centered on Jaylen Brown

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Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In a story posted at 2:28 a.m. Tuesday, Adrian Wojnarowski writes the Boston Celtics have joined the Raptors, Heat and Suns in pursuit of Kevin Durant although the ESPN insider notes that the Boston proposal, centered on Jaylen Brown and picks, is unlikely to gain traction.

Then in another story, this one at 7:05 a.m. Tuesday, Shams Charania reported more details on talks between the two Eastern Conference rivals.

However, Brian Windhorst seemed to throw some cold water on the reports shortly before 11 a.m. in the East. He suggested that the Nets weren’t actively engaged in any talks at the the moment suggesting that discussions were “likely weeks old,” not “fresh.”

Woj began the conversation in the early morning hours with an ESPN story:

[T]he Boston Celtics have emerged among teams engaged in talks on a possible deal, sources told ESPN.

The Celtics appear no closer to acquiring Durant than others in discussions with the Nets, but Boston’s ability to include All-Star forward Jaylen Brown as a centerpiece in offers does help to make the team formidable in its pursuit, sources said.

Woj also noted the Celtics have been “in regular contact with the Nets.”

The availability of the 6’6” Brown, who averaged 23.7 points, 6.1. and 3.5 assists last season, “does help to make the team formidable in its pursuit,” sources told Woj. Brown put up similar numbers in the Celtics sweep of Brooklyn in the post-season: 23.1, 6.9 and 3.5.

In addition to the 25-year-old Brown, the Celtics could offer as many as three unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027 and 2029) — and two pick swaps (2024 and 2026) — in a package for the soon-to-be 34-year-old Durant, per Woj.

A deal would almost certainly to have to include other pieces, other teams, since Durant will earn $44.1 million and Brown $28.7 million this coming season. Brown has two years and $56 million left on his current contract, compared to Durant’s $198 million over four. The Celtics refuse to part with Jayson Tatum in any deal. Woj noted.

Later, in his story, Shams Charania offered more details on the Celtics’ offer ... and contended the Nets made a counter offer:

The Celtics offered Brown, guard Derrick White and a draft pick to the Nets for Durant, sources said. The proposal was rejected, and Brooklyn has asked Boston — in any proposal — to include Brown, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, draft picks and potentially one more rotation player, those sources added. Currently, the Celtics are less inclined to include Smart along with multiple other player or pick assets, but the franchise is mulling over next steps on how to approach discussions...

As of right now, the Celtics have emerged as a serious possibility as a landing spot for Durant. They have tremendous interest in bringing him in and view him as a piece that could take them over that final hurdle.

And in an appearance on the Pat McAfee Show later Tuesday, Shams called Boston a “serious threat” to other teams’ dreams of acquiring KD.

“Boston is a serious threat to go get Kevin Durant because they have the pieces.. probably more so than any other team.”

But both Woj and Shams pointed out that thus far there’s been no “traction” on any deal, no deal imminent.

First Woj:

There are no deals believed to have traction for Durant, and no team has yet to reach the significant threshold that the Nets have set to trade one of the league’s most talented players, sources said. The Nets’ posture on a potential trade has been largely unchanged: They want a massive return that potentially includes multiple unprotected first-round picks, pick swaps and impactful players for Durant, sources said.

Then Shams:

No deal for Durant is imminent, and as August and then September loom, the real desire of interested teams will become clear to the Nets. Brooklyn’s front office, led by general manager Sean Marks, has set a high price on the Durant market while constructing a team that gives the organization confidence in its ability to contend should the team bring the roster, as is, into training camp.

On ESPN’s Get Up Tuesday, Woj reiterated the lack of real urgency in the process. “Boston’s no closer right now than anybody else for a potential deal with the Nets, but certainly, they’re engaged, they’re interested and it’s been a conversation that’s been ongoing as we head now into... as we approach ... the fourth week since Kevin Durant requested a trade from Brooklyn.”

Woj added later, “Kevin Durant has not backed off that trade request he made on June 30.”

However, not everyone believes this is big news. Windhorst on 98.7 Arizona Sports said this late Monday morning after the story broke...

The timing of the Woj story — in the middle of the night on the East Coast — is intriguing. Why did the ESPN insider not wait till the morning to break such a story? Are the Nets trying to drum up interest in KD? Or is Durant’s camp trying to stifle reports that he might be willing to “run it back” for a year? Shams noted that “Durant has shown no change in his stance” re a trade request, first delivered, according to the same two writers on June 30.

Among the other three teams who have been most consistently mentioned as Nets trading partners, the Suns seemingly took themselves out of the running by matching the Pacers $133 million tender for DeAndre Ayton; the Raptors have refused to part with Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes; and the Heat are reportedly trying to add to their stockpile of draft picks to make an offer for KD or Donovan Mitchell.

The KD sweepstakes was supposed to slow this week with so much of the NBA — including Sean Marks — on vacation and the Nets asking price being so high. There’s also been speculation that the Nets have posted such a high price for Durant in hopes that they can convince him to return possibly with Kyrie Irving in the “run it back” scenario next season.

Shams also suggested that while there is no official trade deadline till mid-February, the start of training camp in late September could serve as an unofficial deadline for teams interested in Durant and as it approaches, things could accelerate:

There’s no trade deadline right now, but deadlines always breed action, allowing parties to either become truly serious or decide to walk away from discussions. Now, the start of training camp around Sept. 26 is the unofficial trade deadline. Teams aiming to move players face the late September date for finding a move ahead of camp — or they risk having a cloud hanging over the beginning of the season.

Similarly, on Get Up, Woj said this:

“Look, Brooklyn doesn’t want to trade Kevin Durant. This is perhaps the best player in the league. He’s 33 years old, will be 34 before the season starts, and clearly still at the apex of his talent and in a perfect world, the Nets would bring back Kevin Durant and pair him, of course, with Kyrie Irving and then see how it works with Ben Simmons once he’s healthy and playing again for the Nets, but again Brooklyn is trying to find a deal for Durant but with four years left on his deal, they don’t have to rush into any trade and they want back what they want back which is a massive/historic haul.”

YES Network analyst Frank Isola, on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption late in the afternoon, said that he might not do a deal for KD, pointing out his age. But he also said that Brown is likely the best player being offered Brooklyn.

“Here’s the thing that Boston has that other teams like the Phoenix Suns — they’re not giving up Devin Booker; the Miami Heat — they’re not going to include Jimmy Butler, said Isola in talking with Michael Wilbon.

“The Nets are looking for picks, but also a player who can help them right now. And that player could be Jaylen Brown. If you can get a couple of picks — and if I’m Boston, I’m not doing if it includes Marcus Smart. I’m not giving up my entire team. I swept Brooklyn with Kevin Durant. We love Kevin Durant We get that. but he’ll be 34 in September.

“If I can get him for Jaylen Brown, one more player at the end of the rotation, maybe one or two picks, maybe then. I’m not doing it for Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown.”

For his part, Brown seems less than enthused or maybe he is just exhausted by his name being brought up in virtually every superstar trade discussion.

There is, of course, an irony in the reports of any trade involving Brown and the Nets: the Cal Berkley product was taken with a 2016 Nets pick acquired by Boston in the blockbuster that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn in 2013.

Meanwhile, Shams also confirmed Brian Lewis’ report of two weeks ago that Irving plans to play for Brooklyn, with or without Durant.

“Kyrie Irving, he opted in with the full intent of playing out next season as a Brooklyn Net. From everything I’ve been told, in his mind he’s playing next year in Brooklyn with or without Kevin Durant in a lot of ways. Kyrie Irving opted in,” Shams said on the McAfee Show,

“I think there was an understanding that he was going to make the best decision for himself, and Kevin Durant on the other hand, is obviously making his decision as well. From everything I’ve been told, Kyrie Irving has made his intent he wants to play out next season in Brooklyn.”