So it’s safe to go back to obsessing about who will be the Boston Celtics’ fourth center, right?
The Kevin Durant drama, which enveloped the Celtics and dominated the NBA headlines for the past two months, paused Tuesday with a rather awkward press release in which the Nets basically announced they will not be dealing Durant. For now.
Can we get the last two months of our lives back?
Normally, an offseason story like this would be a godsend for an NBA writer. But coming hot on the heels of Boston’s roller coaster ride to the NBA Finals, and given that a Durant-to-Boston deal carried way too much volatility to many observers, the Durant storyline was more like an annoying summer mosquito that couldn’t be swatted.
The Celtics did their due diligence, just like all other 29 teams in the NBA. Jaylen Brown’s name spent far too much time in the headlines, largely because of the Nets’ desire to create movement on the Durant front.
The lingering question, of course, is whether there will be any fallout from Brown’s name dancing in trade rumors. This isn’t the first time it’s happened and Brown has always found a way to simply use it as fuel to improve as a player. The only reason that Boston should have been aggressive in a Durant pursuit would be if they had concerns about Brown’s long-term desire to stay in Boston, so it’s certainly something to monitor even as Durant elects to stick in Brooklyn.
This is where communication between Boston brass and Brown over the past two months is key to ensuring the stability of that relationship moving forward.
For the majority of Celtics fans, those who yearned for the team to simply bring back last season’s core, Tuesday offered a chance to finally exhale. The focus can shift back to the potential of a team that was minutes away from a 3-1 Finals lead. A team that added some veteran bench depth by bringing in Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari in moves that were overshadowed by the lingering Durant drama.
Fans can go back to daydreaming about how good this team can be if Jayson Tatum and Brown continue their ascent. How good this team might be if Robert Williams stays healthy and continues to blossom. How good this team can be as Marcus Smart is further entrenched at point guard.
The journey back to the Finals will not be easy and Brooklyn, if it can work through the drama created, should provide one of the many hurdles along the route. But the Celtics should feel confident about their position as defending Eastern Conference champs.
As online betting vendors scrambled to release updated odds, the Celtics were still the betting favorite for 2023 champions.
Training camp opens in little more than a month. Without the little Durant drama cloud hovering above, the focus can shift to usual summer priorities, like obsessing over Instagram workout videos. We can all scream and shout about Payton Pritchard’s role.
It says a lot that a team like Boston could play in the Finals and still thrust themselves into a conversation to trade for a future Hall of Famer like Durant. But we couldn’t stop having flashbacks to the Kyrie Irving situation, where the Celtics sacrificed continuity and chemistry in the pursuit of talent. The team is still dealing with the aftershocks even as it surges with the current core.
There’s also something to be said for letting this core see this process out. Maybe it’s a bit hokey, but watching a pair of homegrown stars in Tatum and Brown try to will this thing to a championship finish line is truly intoxicating.
And now, it appears, we’ll truly get to see where the Jays can deliver this team next.