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NBA Rumors: Kevin Durant Trade with Jaylen Brown Seen as 'Unofficial Front-Runner'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVAugust 16, 2022

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Boston Celtics are reportedly the "unofficial front-runner" to land Kevin Durant.

Sam Amick of The Athletic reported league executives view the Celtics' plan to use Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece of talks as the best offer on the table. According to Amick, Boston's offer sets a baseline expectation of opposing teams offering the Brooklyn Nets at least their second-best player in return for Durant.

The Celtics offered Brown, Derrick White and a future draft pick for Durant earlier this offseason, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. The Celtics countered by asking for Brown, Marcus Smart and multiple draft picks.

Boston rejected the counteroffer, and the two sides have seemingly been at a stalemate since.

Durant first requested a trade in late June, and the Nets have moved at their own pace in attempting to get a deal done. Brooklyn initially set a massive price of two All-Stars, but it seems that has lowered a bit. Smart is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year but has never made an All-Star team. The Nets being willing to take a one-time All-Star in Brown and Smart, along with picks, in return signals they're at least somewhat more realistic about the return they can expect.

That said, Brooklyn will have to lower its expectations even more before a deal gets done. The Celtics likely knows they will have to part with Smart or Robert Williams III along with Brown in order to get a deal done. Brooklyn is already selling below Durant's actual market value, and a borderline All-Star and a good role player is the bare minimum of what the Nets should seek in return. Boston's best bet at getting additional concessions surrounds the amount of future draft picks being offered in the deal.

Durant has also ratcheted up his own offensive, meeting with Joe Tsai earlier this month and demanding the dismissal of coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks if the Nets governor wanted his future Hall of Famer back next season. After word of the meeting leaked, Tsai immediately went to social media and indicated he has no plans to fire Nash or Marks.

It's increasingly clear that the relationship between the Nets and Durant has reached toxic levels. That said, it's hard to blame Brooklyn for continuing to wait in an attempt to extract every possible ounce of value out of a Durant deal.

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