NBA

Here’s why the Celtics should resist Kevin Durant trade

ADVERTISEMENT

Durant is like a high performance sports car. When road conditions are ideal, the experience and performance are unmatched and enjoyable. But you can’t rely on this responsive, finely tuned machine to reliably get you to your favorite destination if there are bumps along the way. That’s why the Celtics should avoid the global forward, who is making his way out of Brooklyn a year after signing a four-year, $198 million extension.

Durant is a formidable competitor, basketball addict, four-time scoring champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He is nicknamed the Slim Reaper. But he’s a reaper. Durant is an organization killer who leaves a huge crater with every departure, intentional or not.

He left a mess in Oklahoma City after leaving in 2016. The Thunder still haven’t recovered. Durant left Golden State to team up with best friend Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn on a 2019 sign-and-trade. The Warriors went 15-50 in the COVID-truncated season. All of that wasn’t on him, as Klay Thompson was out with a torn ACL and Stephen Curry was limited to five games with a hand injury.

Now Durant is ready to leave a smoldering pile of rubble in the Hipster Hive. His reasons are obscure. But Shams Charania reported that earlier this month, when Durant reiterated his trade demand to Nets owner Joe Tsai, the forward campaigned for Nets general manager Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash to be fired. to cancel his request.

It’s too much baggage for me if I’m the Boston brain trust.

Maybe Celtics coach Ime Udoka thinks he can be the Durant Whisperer of his time with him as a Brooklyn assistant and with USA Basketball. Nash was a player development coach for Golden State with Durant before the Nets hired him with Durant’s imprimatur. Durant’s favor changes can be dizzying and disorienting,

You might say, “But it’s worth it.

Here’s the thing: Despite his reputation, Durant’s resume indicates he doesn’t tip the scales toward a title as much as one might think.

As great as he is, Durant has never made it to the NBA Finals with anything other than a stacked team.

There’s no good reason the Celtics can’t return with Jaylen Brown (left) and Jayson Tatum.Elsa/Getty

When he made the final as a youngster in 2012 with OKC, he was playing in a team with Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Durant, Westbrook and Harden were all going to earn MVPs. Ibaka was the equivalent of Robert Williams, leading the NBA in blocks in 2012 and 2013 and earning All-Defensive Team honors.

KD left to join a Warriors team that won an NBA title in 2015 and set the record for most regular season wins (73) in 2016. It was basically a cheat code, and he got two rings back.

Durant followed fellow NBA world destroyer Irving to Brooklyn, missing the 2019-20 season recovering from a torn Achilles.

He played 90 regular season games for Brooklyn. He won a playoff series — coincidentally, against a Celtics team that Brown missed in 2021 — and alienated another superstar with his staunch support of Irving.

Harden asked to leave Brooklyn, fed up with Irving overwhelming the team’s season with his militant stance on vaccination mandates. The super team of Durant, Irving and Harden crashed and burned on takeoff.

This whole Durant story is relevant as the Celtics ponder whether Durant is part of their future. If the Celtics part ways with Brown and cult favorite Marcus Smart to get him, would sparring partner Tatum and what’s left be enough to earn a ring and satiate KD?

Otherwise, Durant will drop trade ultimatums at 5G speed.

Durant, soon to be 34, is more of a flight risk than Brown, 25, who put down roots in the city and pledged his allegiance to Tatum last season, sparking the remarkable turnaround.

Last weekend, Brown showed up to a local basketball event on Blue Hill Avenue with teams from Dorchester and Roxbury and had Mayor Michelle Wu photographed in her clothing line.

He posted a photo on Instagram with a caption without punctuation that read, “I believe in my community, my community believes in me.

Brown, who has two years left on his contract, has an emotional and financial incentive to stay with the Celtics. He’s also a rising player who led Boston in the fourth quarter in the playoffs, shooting 57.8 percent from the field in the fourth.

Durant is Boston’s great white whale.

Former president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would have drafted him if the Celtics had picked up the first pick in the 2007 draft. Six years ago, the Celtics sent a contingent to the Hamptons, including Tom Brady, to woo him and practically hung a “Kevin Durant runner-up” banner in the Garden.

Durant feels more approachable than ever.

It’s tempting.

It’s also the wrong move to trade Brown for the temperamental Durant, whose personality isn’t ideal for Boston’s cacophonous melting pot of sports.

It should also be a giant red flag that Durant is easily swayed by the heterodox Irving. Kyrie’s tenure here has been a tension-filled disaster. Now he wise TD Garden, and his mere presence brings out the worst in the behavior of Celtic fans.

The Celtics are star chasers. It’s understandable given the ecosystem of the NBA.

But they should stick to their young stars, because the staging of KD’s diva number means the soundtrack you’ll most likely hear is Durant asking.


Christopher L. Gasper is a columnist for The Globe. He can be contacted at christopher.gasper@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.

ADVERTISEMENT