Kevin Durant "would like to play with" Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart if the Brooklyn Nets sent him to the Celtics in a trade, according to SNY's Ian Begley.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported July 25 the Celtics were willing to trade Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and a draft pick for Durant but balked when Brooklyn requested Smart and more draft picks to be included.
When it comes to Durant's preferences, The Athletic's Sam Amick filed a similar report July 1 about the 12-time All-Star's desires in Miami. "Durant, it seems, would only want to play on a Heat team that includes Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry," Amick wrote.
In that case, though, Amick listed off three of Miami's best trade assets, one of whom (Adebayo) would presumably be viewed as the cornerstone in any deal from the Nets' perspective.
Boston could take Smart off the table and still assemble an attractive package built around Brown. Some combination of Brown along with White, Robert Williams III, Grant Willams or Payton Pritchard plus picks isn't bad.
The bigger hurdle is Brooklyn's potential reluctance to send Durant to another Eastern Conference team, especially one in the same division.
Charania reported Monday that Durant told team governor Joe Tsai the organization had to choose between him or head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks. Tsai's response left little doubt about how he's handling the matter:
In his report, Charania reported, "Tsai and the Nets have made clear privately that they will take every last asset from a team that trades for Durant."
One presumes Brooklyn would be especially demanding if a rival such as the Celtics was on the other side of the bargaining table. Why not consider Smart a dealbreaker?
The Nets could certainly use the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Their first-round picks for the foreseeable future are either owed to the Houston Rockets or tied to the Rockets in pick swaps.
Following a Durant trade, Marks or whoever is running the team would have to thread a difficult needle between remaining respectable while building another championship contender. The presence of Smart would help raise the Nets' floor in a post-Durant future.