Two teams that are looking to improve their rosters this year are the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Boston has done a tremendous job so far, bringing in two shooters and veterans, Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari. The team could have certainly used both of these players in the 2022 NBA Finals because they lacked enough shot-makers and playmaking against a Golden State Warriors squad that had both of those things at an elite level. Especially with the addition of Brogdon, the Celtics are back to being one of the best teams in the NBA and a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. But knowing the Celtics, they will not rest on their laurels.
Rather, Boston has inserted itself into the trade market for superstar Kevin Durant. According to reports, they have dangled Jaylen Brown as trade bait with the hopes that the Nets accept a package. Of course, that trade was rejected, as Brooklyn’s demands seem to be unusually high:
"The Boston Celtics recently offered a package around onetime All-Star Jaylen Brown for Durant and have emerged as a real threat to acquire Durant, league sources tell The Athletic.
"The Celtics offered Brown, guard Derrick White and a draft pick to the Nets for Durant, sources said. The proposal was rejected, and Brooklyn has asked Boston — in any proposal — to include Brown, Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, draft picks and potentially one more rotation player, those sources added. Currently, the Celtics are less inclined to include Smart along with multiple other player or pick assets, but the franchise is mulling over next steps on how to approach discussions.
"As of right now, the Celtics have emerged as a serious possibility as a landing spot for Durant. They have tremendous interest in bringing him in and view him as a piece that could take them over that final hurdle. Although there is work to be done, there is a deal to be had that would suffice the Nets’ overwhelming ask."
But Boston has a budding superstar in Jayson Tatum and some other solid pieces including Al Horford, Robert Williams III, and Malcolm Brogdon, so they must go all-in for a 4-time scoring champion in Kevin Durant. To do so, they could meet Brooklyn’s trade demands and get the deal over the line. That would certainly break news headlines and create the biggest storyline heading into next year.
The other team in the mix to improve its roster is none other than the Los Angeles Lakers. After missing the play-in tournament last year, Los Angeles entered the summer with a change in its mind. For one, they brought in solid role players in Lonnie Walker and Thomas Bryant. But the biggest change that must be made has to be offloading Russell Westbrook and looking for Kyrie Irving in return. No doubt about it, the Russell Westbrook experiment was an utter disaster. The point guard had arguably the worst season of his career and did not fit well alongside another ball-dominant player in LeBron James. Westbrook ended up shooting 44.4% from the field, 29.8% from three, and 66.7% from the foul line. Obviously, that won’t cut it for a Lakers side trying to win a championship as soon as possible.
The Lakers need to get rid of Russ and bring in a superstar in Kyrie Irving to appease the franchise cornerstone LeBron James. LeBron and Kyrie won a championship together with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and clearly have on-court chemistry. As a floor-spacer and elite guard who can play off the ball, Kyrie fits better than Russ in almost every way. Of course, there is no secret that Irving is available for a trade and he could be on the way out very soon, as reported by Shams Charania:
"Kyrie Irving, it appears, is going to find a new home and Kevin Durant has four years left on his contract... His future is very much right now in the air."
With Irving on the trading block, the Lakers can jump in immediately and put together a package that could possibly appease the Nets organization once and for all. Again, Brooklyn is looking to extract maximum value from their stars and the Lakers could achieve this. Now, if both the Celtics and Lakers pull off blockbuster deals for Brooklyn’s stars, the NBA will likely have its most exciting season in recent memory as we head into 2023.
Boston Celtics Land Kevin Durant In A Mega Deal
Trade Package: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White, 2025 First Round Pick, 2027 First Round Pick for Kevin Durant
The Boston Celtics dismantled the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs, and that was mainly due to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s excellent play on both ends of the court alongside the elite defense of Marcus Smart and Al Horford. Of course, the roster’s core reached the NBA Finals together and managed to push the Golden State Warriors to Game 6 before failing to force a Game 7. No doubt about it, the Celtics’ loss in the Finals was hurtful because they seemed overwhelmed and immature in the way they approached the Warriors. For one, the turnovers were off the charts bad and Golden State could not believe how many times the Celtics killed themselves on the court. While most of the players deserve blame, most of it will go to Tatum and Brown, as they are the two leaders of the team.
The Celtics did great to bring in Malcolm Brogdon to fix their offense, but they should make an even bigger move to bring in Kevin Durant. Jayson Tatum is absolutely untouchable, because of his elite scoring skill and ability to one day be a bona fide MVP contender every year. Jaylen Brown was also considered untouchable at the start of the year, but not for a player of Kevin Durant’s caliber. There is no doubt that Kevin Durant is a better player than Jaylen Brown, and can form arguably the most talented offensive duo in history alongside Jayson Tatum. The Celtics can also hold on to other key players, such as Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Malcolm Brogdon, who can be placed around the two superstars. The Celtics might not want to run it back with the roster as currently constructed, because they will likely not make the Finals again with the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers returning to contention next year.
Brooklyn wants an All-Star to replace Durant along with other win-now players, and the Celtics package gives them that. Brown is an All-Star with a chance to form a nice duo with Ben Simmons, and Marcus Smart is fresh off a season where he was named the best defensive player in the league. Adding in reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and Derrick White, the Nets can still be a playoff team with a chance to possibly upset any opponent in the first round of the playoffs with this deal. But no doubt about it, the Celtics win this deal.
Kevin Durant is not a turnover machine by any means and will always get a clean look anytime he wants. The superstar forward averaged 29.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 6.4 APG last year with the Nets while shooting 51.8% from the field, 38.3% from three, and 91.0% from the free-throw line. Those are superstar stats and numbers that indicate KD was arguably the best player in the world last year. At age 33 and going on 34, he has at least 2 more years at an otherworldly level. Durant and Tatum will each average at least 26 PPG apiece, and will have enough talent around them to make the Finals.
In fact, Boston might be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are a very good team as presently built, but Durant takes them over the top. Winning an NBA championship isn’t easy and nothing is guaranteed, which means going after arguably a top-15 player of all time should be a no-brainer for the Celtics.
Lakers Finally Trade Russell Westbrook And Get Kyrie Irving
Trade Package: Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, 2026 First-Round Pick, 2027 First Round Pick For Kyrie Irving, Seth Curry
Los Angeles Lakers fans have been waiting on the Kyrie Irving trade ever since the point guard requested a trade. There is no secret that Brooklyn wants to get rid of Kyrie because the player has caused a tremendous upheaval during his stint with the franchise. Actually, Irving has been an issue everywhere he has been since leaving LeBron James’ side. The only way for Irving to remain focused is to play beside LeBron James, the greatest leader in the NBA right now. Kyrie and James would form a dynamic duo together, and give Los Angeles a proven duo to work with.
Even beyond fit, Kyrie Irving is miles ahead of Westbrook as a player right now. Irving averaged 27.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 5.8 APG last year on 46.9% FG, 41.8% 3-PT FG, and 91.5% FT. The point guard is an elite marksman who can play on and off the ball and is a true basketball genius. Beyond being a better shooter than Westbrook, he is a more controlled player who averaged 2.5 turnovers per game compared to Westbrook’s 3.8 turnovers per game. The Lakers win in every way with this deal, although they will have to cough up some future assets in Talen Horton-Tucker and two first-round picks as well.
Horton-Tucker is 21 years old and has potential, but he fits better with the Brooklyn Nets right now than he does with the Lakers. The shooting guard had a down year last year by posting only 10.0 PPG and 2.7 APG, and his shooting splits were simply ugly to look at (41.6% FG, 26.9% 3-PT FG). But he has plenty of potential, and the Nets could bring out the best of the player by giving him minutes and confidence. The Lakers cannot afford to waste time waiting for Horton-Tucker to start reaching his ceiling and must sacrifice him if it means bringing Kyrie Irving on board. The two future picks also mean nothing when LeBron James is almost 38 years old, and the Lakers will not be winning anything for a while once The King retires.
If the Nets have had enough and want Kyrie gone, they could bring in Russell Westbrook and future assets to start their rebuild since Westbrook’s $47 million contract is off the books next year. Also, Horton-Tucker could kickstart their rebuild and the future picks come in handy when the Lakers do not have LeBron James anymore. Again, the Nets get something in return, but the Lakers absolutely win this deal in the short term. With Kyrie Irving reuniting with his “big brother” LeBron James, the point guard could return to his best. The duo never had a superstar teammate in Anthony Davis either, and their Big Three could be a massive problem for everyone in the Western Conference.
Not to mention, Los Angeles is likely adding one of the best snipers in the NBA Seth Curry to their roster. Curry averaged 15.0 PPG on 48.7% FG, 42.2% 3-PT FG, and 87.2% FT last year. No doubt about it, Seth is exactly what LeBron James and the Lakers need in their offense because he is one of the best off-ball players in the league and an elite marksman. With Irving and Curry on the board, the Lakers are massive favorites to come out of the West yet again. All it needs is for the Lakers to sacrifice their only future assets for the sake of Irving’s presence with a roster that also features LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Celtics And Lakers Likely Renew Rivalry And Meet In 2023 NBA Finals
If the Brooklyn Nets move on from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving through these two trade deals, they can kick-start a rebuild with Jaylen Brown, Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Marcus Smart at the core of it along with at least 4 first-round picks. That haul is impressive for a team that just lost two future Hall of Fame players in their primes, as they can compete in the playoffs next year and have enough flexibility for the future as well.
But no doubt, the spotlight will be on the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics add arguably the best player in the world right now with a budding superstar in Jayson Tatum, and the rest of the roster is intact with key role players including Al Horford, Robert Williams III, Malcolm Brogdon, and Danilo Gallinari. Losing Marcus Smart will hurt, but KD will make all the difference for Boston in games where they need to find offense. Not to mention, Tatum will continue his maturation by learning from arguably a top-3 scorer of all time.
Meanwhile, the Lakers create the most terrifying Big Three in the NBA with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis. Irving does not seem too focused on playing basketball, but that could change when he teams up with LeBron once again and smells championship possibility again. The Lakers have enough pieces around them to be solid, especially with the addition of sharpshooter Seth Curry. Los Angeles is keen on making changes, and they must pull the trigger to get Russell Westbrook out of their roster and bring Kyrie in as soon as possible.
If both these blockbuster deals go through, the result could be yet another Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers showdown in the NBA Finals. We have not had one since the 2010 NBA Finals when Kobe Bryant’s Lakers defeated Kevin Garnett’s Celtics in 7 games. With the potential rivalry renewed, the 2023 season could be one of the most exciting in years. Time will tell if the Celtics and Lakers are willing to part ways with their assets because going after elite stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who are available in the trade market, hardly ever occurs in the NBA.