The Boston Celtics have reportedly emerged as a potential suitor in Kevin Durant trade talks.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Celtics have been in "regular contact" with the Nets regarding a trade but "appear no closer to acquiring Durant than others." The Toronto Raptors, Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns have been the most regularly mentioned potential suitors.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN later told 98.7 Arizona Sports that the discussions with the Celtics were not "fresh talks" and that the offer was likely "weeks old," per Sarah Kezele.
Boston's ability to deal Jaylen Brown could give the Celtics a leg up in talks should they start to heat up.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Celtics offered Brown, Derrick White and an undisclosed draft pick for Durant. The Nets countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, draft picks and another rotation player.
Boston has balked at including Smart in trade talks.
The Celtics' willingness to include Brown—regardless of Smart's involvement—in trade talks likely makes them the favorites to land Durant.
The Suns, once considered the front-runners, are essentially out of the conversation after having to match the Indiana Pacers' offer sheet to Deandre Ayton. Phoenix's best trade package would have included a sign-and-trade of Ayton, given the team's understandable unwillingness to part with Devin Booker.
The Heat could include Bam Adebayo in talks, but Brooklyn and Miami would require a third team to get involved and take on Ben Simmons. The Nets could not have Adebayo and Simmons on their roster because both are on designated rookie extensions; NBA rules prohibit teams from trading for more than one player on a designated contract.
The Raptors' most attractive trade chip is Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, but Toronto has shown no willingness to make him available. Adding Durant also would not necessarily make the Raptors an NBA Finals favorite.
The Celtics have the best player who is realistically available to the Nets in trade talks. Brown doesn't turn 26 until October, has been a 20-point scorer for three straight seasons and has never gotten a chance to be a true lead option on offense.
It's also possible Brown is motivated to leave Boston even though the team is coming off an NBA Finals berth. He liked a tweet last month about feeling "disrespected" by fans, given his semi-regular inclusion in trade speculation.
Hearing the Celtics offered him to Brooklyn is unlikely to heal whatever wounds exist. Don't be surprised if Brown looks to find a new home for himself ahead of next season, regardless of whether the Celtics wind up landing Durant. Brown has two years remaining on his contract, giving him leverage to force a deal if the "disrespect" isn't rectified.