The Boston Celtics have been down this path before with Jaylen Brown, especially after the 2018 playoffs, when Brown could have been the centerpiece in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics were running for Game 7 of the Conference Finals. Four of the top six in playoff minutes were 23 or younger: Brown, Jason Tatum, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier. Two stars in their prime – Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward – were scheduled to return from injury next season.
The Celtics decided they were good enough that they didn’t have to jeopardize their future in order to improve their present with Leonard.
But enthusiasm for Boston’s young core to be within one Finals win has clouded analysis of his broader postseason. Many of us swept past Boston, approaching one the loss lose in the first round to the untested Milwaukee Bucks. In between, the Celtics flipped the fledgling Philadelphia 76ers in a five-game win that was more ragged than convincing.
We know what happened next: the Celtics disbanded in 2019, Irving and Hayward left, and the Lakers beat Boston to Anthony Davis. Suddenly, the idea that Boston was built to fight for a decade seemed odd. Decade? Ha. The next season is not promised to anyone.
Three years later, the Celtics contacted Kevin Durant, according to initial reports from Sportzshala’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Brown would be the obvious centerpiece in any such deal.
These Celtics are within two championship games, three wins and one round more than they did in 2018. They seem to have solved all the chemistry issues they had at the start of last season. They plunged into depth, play and shooting with Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. Now they can be the favorites of the championship. Why should such a good team trade a 25-year-old All-Star for a 33-year-old megastar who has played 90 games in three seasons and seems to quickly become miserable wherever he goes?