The combination of Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart is more valuable than Jayson Tatum, according to one NBA general manager.
The GM spoke to Ric Bucher of Fox Sports and said he would rather trade Tatum than move Brown and Smart in a deal for Kevin Durant:
"KD and Tatum are talented, but I don't know how tough they are. I know he's a lot younger than KD, but if you're just trying to win one title, do you trade Tatum for Durant? I'd do that before I'd give them Jaylen and Smart. Brown is valued a little less than Tatum because he's not the skill darling. He's a high level athlete who has developed into a good player. But I have to think Brooklyn would prefer Tatum and you wouldn't have to give up Smart."
Well, that is certainly one way of looking at things. An opinion very much in the minority of anyone whom you'd ask about the situation but one that represents at least one of the 30 people tasked with running an NBA organization.
The Celtics reportedly engaged the Brooklyn Nets in trade talks for Durant, offering a package that includes Brown, Derrick White and a draft pick, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. Brooklyn countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart, future picks and possibly an additional role player, an offer the Celtics declined.
It's far from the first time Brown's name has been mentioned in trade talks—he's been bandied about as potential bait for Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and now Durant. The Leonard and Davis trade talks ultimately went nowhere, and it's possible the Durant ones do as well. That said, it's clear the constant speculation has been weighing on Brown.
As far as Tatum goes, there's no real need to even address any rumors he might be included in Durant trade talks. He's staying right where he is. Tatum is a 24-year-old who just made first team All-NBA; Durant was on the second team. While Durant is still better than Tatum, he's 33 years old and has played just 90 games over the last three seasons. There's no world in which trading Tatum for Durant makes sense, nor does it have a remote chance of happening.