As the Boston Celtics fight for their life in the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals and stare down the barrel of an offseason of massive changes, analysts are already trying to break up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. On the May 22 edition of ESPN’s First Take, Kendrick Perkins proposed swapping Brown for Damian Lillard — and made the case that neither side would be able to say no if such a deal was brought to both front offices’ desks.
“Who says no (to a Lillard-Brown swap)? (Does) Portland say no? Hell no! Do the Celtics say no? Hell no!” Perkins exclaimed. “It’s time for change. It’s time for something different.”
Sports Illustrated’s Kevin Sweeney sees such a proposal as one that would “shake up the NBA,” and projected there being plenty of interest in Brown if/when the Boston Celtics are eliminated from the 2023 NBA Playoffs.
“A Brown-for-Lillard swap would be quite the blockbuster,” Sweeney prefaced before saying, “And while the suggested move is all conjecture from Perkins at this point, expect Brown’s name to come up frequently in trade speculation this offseason if Boston does in fact crash out of the playoffs.”
How a Jaylen Brown-Damian Lilliard trade between the Boston Celtics and Trail Blazers would shake up the NBA
A deal between the Celtics and Trail Blazers involving Brown and Lillard would shake up the NBA all right.
In such a situation, the Association would be down a contender in the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics likely taking a step back unless Lillard is able to replicate his output on a team he isn’t the No. 1 option for. While pairing Lillard and Tatum sounds good on paper, there’s no proof such a dynamic would work. Brown and Tatum’s dynamic has produced a postseason appearance every season together, three conference finals appearances, and an Eastern Conference crown in 2022.
As for Portland, they would undoubtedly be better, but projecting a Brown-led Trail Blazers squad to run the gauntlet in the Western Conference is a shaky bet at best.
This trade proposal wouldn’t do the moving and shaking Perkins thinks it would. That’s probably why the Boston Celtics front office isn’t likely to entertain such an offer if it were proposed without an explicit Brown trade request.