So, a recent report came out — well, it probably isn’t that recent, but it was leaked recently — that had the Brooklyn Nets turning (and countering) down an offer of Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and some future picks for Kevin Durant.
The Nets 100% should have declined that initial offer and rightfully so ask for more, which could include Marcus Smart and another rotational player, it is freaking Durant after all.
But after some negotiations on who goes and how many picks, this is a no brainer for the Celtics. They should absolutely do this trade if it means Brown and Smart as the headliners.
Yet, on my timeline, there were many Celtics straight up opposed to this, while the majority weren’t completely sure as to what would be better.
Whereas I don’t think twice about it.
There are two main concerns when considering trading a young star for an aging star.
One is regarding that player’s age, durability, how long they’ll keep up this level of play, how quickly will their decline be, etc. The second is mortgaging the future, shortening the window, and putting all your chips in the short term.
So, let’s tackle those issues.
Durant is going to be 34 years old.
Durant played 168 games in the regular season over the past three years.
Durant had an Achilles injury.
These are all true and would be valid concerns for any player. But since coming back from the injury there is absolutely nothing to suggest that Durant has lost a step in his game or will be on a decline right now.
Here are some quick stats per BBall-Index from this season — amongst rotation shot wings:
- 99th in overall shot making
- 96th in overall shot creation
- 99th in middle game talent
- 99th in one on one talent
- 99th in mid range talent
- 95th 3pt shooting talent
- 100th 3pt pull up talent
- 99th playmaking talent
I think you get the picture. For all the skills that make Durant one of the greatest scorers we’ve ever seen, he’s still arguably the best in the business.
Does this look like someone who’s going to decline any time soon. Even when you look at his shooting numbers, there are many areas where it’s career high for him.
And when you look at his game, that’s not something that goes away with age or a decline in athleticism. Even if you’re pessimistic about his game aging — though, I don’t think you should be — there’s a very high chance he’s going to play at this level this year and the year after.
This brings us with the other major issue: shortening the window.
I hate this argument — to some extent. Sure, this argument makes sense if you were trading Jayson Tatum for Durant and other aging stars. That makes zero sense.
This argument makes sense when it comes to young players that are already or most definitely have the ceiling to be a top 10 calibre guy — Tatum, Jokic, Luka, Ja, Booker, Zion.
These are some examples where I wouldn’t think about trading for aging stars. But when it comes to the lower tier of young stars — Brown, Herro, Mikal — then, just give me the better player right now.
A team should always look to maximise the window right now when they have that guy or the team that needs one more piece to get over the hump. When you’re a team that is already a contender or close to it, then screw the long game — the only moves you make from then on are moves the help your star right now.
That’s where the Celtics are. One final appearance, two conference finals, top 10 calibre guy, great coach, and great supporting cast.
There is no point thinking about what’s in three or five years because a lot can change in that span. There is absolutely no guarantee that Brown and Tatum core have a bigger window.
Just think about the core for certain teams five years ago. Things in the league change fast now.
People will point to the Celtics just making the finals but that also means nothing. Making the finals doesn’t mean you’re just as likely to it again. For all we know, this could be the only final appearance that features Tatum with the Celtics. We don’t know.
So, I’m making whatever moves that improves the chances of winning a ring this year, the next year, and hopefully the year after. 2-3 years is what you should be looking at, not five years into the future.
I saw this tweet once regarding Jimmy Butler potential trade to Miami when he was still with the Timberwolves. The Heat fans at that time said the same thing about Josh Richardson. Why trade for a guy that’s older, on a bigger contract, who had an injury when you have nice young pieces? I don’t think any Heat fan regrets trading for Butler.
This brings to the question of whether this trade actually makes the Celtics better for the 2022-23 season. That’s the question that matters.
And this is a pretty straight forward answer, especially when the package is what was reported. The Celtics wouldn’t gut their team or give up the most important pieces on defense.
What Kevin freaking Durant brings is certainly more whatever Brown and Smart does.
Their defense will get somewhat worse losing those key pieces, but I don’t see that drop that significant, especially when Durant isn’t some liability either.
Adding Durant makes your team better. Simple. And if that’s all it takes as far as players, then it’s a no brainer for the Celtics.