The Boston Celtics want Kevin Durant, and he apparently wants them back.
That said, Boston is driving a pretty hard bargain if it hopes to land the 12-time All-Star.
Kurt Helin of NBC Sports reported the Celtics are not making Robert Williams III available in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Nets have asked for Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and multiple draft picks in exchange for Durant. Boston's initial offer included Derrick White, Brown and a future draft pick.
The Celtics have been hesitant to include Smart, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, along with Brown in trade packages.
While Brown is likely the best centerpiece Brooklyn can expect in any trade, the Nets clearly have their eyes on starrier role players than White and more future draft-pick compensation.
Williams and Smart were the anchors of the world-beating defense that led the Celtics to an Eastern Conference championship last season. Smart became the first guard to win DPOY since Gary Payton in 1995-96, while Williams took a leap as an interior menace with the lateral quickness to adequately switch on pick-and-rolls.
The Celtics defense allowed 3.7 points more points per 100 possessions with Williams on the bench, and their defense was 1.5 points better with Smart on the floor, according to Basketball Reference. A defensive downturn was particularly noticeable when Williams missed time in the postseason, playing a part in the Celtics needing seven games to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.
It's understandable that the Celtics would be hesitant to part with Williams or Smart; they're arguably the Eastern Conference favorite even without Durant.
That said, it's not particularly realistic. Brown, as great as he is, has never sniffed being an All- NBA player. He's six years into his career and may have topped out as good-but-not-great. Durant is a once-in-a-generation talent, even as he approaches age 34.
If the Celtics want to pull off the blockbuster, they will likely have to bend and include either Smart or Williams at some point.