The Boston Celtics have emerged as a possible trade destination for Kevin Durant, according to reports.

The 12-time All-Star forward rocked the Brooklyn Nets by requesting a trade last month, having joined the franchise in 2019.

Having won back-to-back NBA titles in 2017 and 2018 during his time with the Golden State Warriors, being named the finals' MVP on both occasions, Durant has reportedly shown signs of discontent with the Nets' failure to compete for a first-ever NBA title.

The Nets' 2022 playoff campaign was halted by a first-round defeat to the Celtics, who now appear to be in the hunt for Durant's signature.

According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics' ability to include 2021 All-star forward Jaylen Brown in any deal makes them a strong contender to acquire Durant, who is under contract until 2026.

Durant is expected to command a huge trade package, and ESPN claim Boston could offer as many as three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps alongside Brown's services.

The Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors have also been credited with an interest in Durant, who led the Nets with an average of 29.9 points per game across his 2021-22 regular-season campaign, posting a 36-19 record in his 55 outings.

The Phoenix Suns and head coach Monty Williams have agreed to a long-term contract extension, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday. 

The exact terms of the deal were not made public, but the extension adds multiple years onto Williams’ original deal, which had two seasons remaining. 

Williams has been at the helm during one of the best stretches in franchise history, guiding the Suns to a 2021 NBA Finals appearance and a franchise-best 64 wins last season. 

Williams has gone 149-78 (.656 win percentage) in three seasons with Phoenix and was named the 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year. 

The Suns earned the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs last season and were considered favourites to return to a second straight Finals but were beaten in seven games by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round. 

Deandre Ayton called it "a blessing" to return to the Phoenix Suns on his new four-year, $133million contract extension.

Ayton, 23, averaged 17.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this past regular season, making it four consecutive seasons he has tallied at least 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest since entering the league in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The former first overall pick finished fourth in the NBA in field goal percentage (63.4 per cent), while also demonstrating he has the defensive versatility to close playoff games – a rare trait for a modern centre in the era of 'small-ball'.

Instead of paying their top pick his max contract a year early to take the pressure off – as the Dallas Mavericks did with Ayton's draft classmate Luka Doncic – the Suns decided against that route, forcing their seven-foot youngster to prove himself again a season after helping the franchise to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.

After waiting to see what price Ayton would command on the open market, the Suns did not hesitate to match the Indiana Pacers' max offer sheet, as it was one year and $42m less than the Suns could have offered as the team that drafted him.

Speaking to ESPN in his first interview since making his extension with Phoenix official, Ayton said while he is grateful, the process has opened his eyes to the business side of the NBA.

"This is a blessing," he said. "This contract not only has generational impact for my family, but also with the way we are able to work in the Phoenix community and home in the Bahamas. 

"I've come to understand that this is a business. So, I was more anxious to know the end of the result so I could focus, move on and just get back to work. The shift in free agency brought a lot of uncertainty through the whole process. 

"I got to give a lot of respect to the Pacers organisation – they were aggressive from the start and showing a lot of love – and we agreed to a max offer sheet. The Suns matched, now, I'm back in Phoenix as a Sun.

"I'm happy the process is over. I can put all this behind me and focus on chasing a championship this upcoming season with my brothers."

Suns general manager James Jones told ESPN that the plan was always to bring Ayton back, although he called the decision to play things out through restricted free agency "negotiations", without going into it any further.

"We wanted Deandre here," he said. "He's vital to what we do, at the core of everything that we do. 

"Throughout this whole process it was, it rang true. We wanted to keep him here, and the moment we can come to an agreement, we would. 

"So, waiting 24 hours, 48 hours [to match the Pacers' offer], that wasn't something we needed to do because going into it, we knew this is where he wanted to be and where we wanted him to be.

"If there's any doubt from anyone that we wanted him, I think that the matching did that. It was urgent for us. It was important. It was critical for us. So, we just wanted to make sure that we handled our business quickly."

Phoenix head coach Monty Williams also said he was ecstatic to have his starting center back, despite an incident in the Suns' Game 7 elimination against the Golden State Warriors where Ayton allegedly refused to re-enter the game during the blowout loss, which Williams called an "internal" matter at the time.

"James [Jones] and myself, we talk a lot and he'll let me know what's going on with the contract and ask for my opinion," Williams said. 

"I try to stay out of persuading him when it comes to him making decisions, but we knew any offer that he got, we were going to match.

"I'm happy for Deandre just because I know this is what he wanted. He wants to be in that class of players that's regarded in this way. From that standpoint, I think as a competitor, that's what you want. When you see a guy working for that, that part is pretty cool."

In his first comments about the Game 7 situation, Ayton said any issues are now "in the past" and that his relationship with Williams is "calm".

When Williams was asked about the situation, he simply described it as "a bad day".

"I didn't feel like I had to say anything. I was just doing my job," he said. "We had a bad day, but we had an unbelievable season. 

"Unfortunately, in sports and even in society, we focus on the one bad thing. It hurt like crazy, and it still hurts. It was embarrassing to play that way, but as the dust settles and I look at the season from a holistic perspective, I look at all the good stuff that happened."

The Phoenix Suns have immediately matched the four-year, $133million offer sheet that the Indiana Pacers presented center Deandre Ayton in restricted free agency.

With Ayton being a restricted free agent, it meant the Suns would reserve the right to match any offer Ayton agreed to with another team, and it appears it was their plan all along to test if the market would actually view the former number one draft pick as a max contract player.

Ayton's representatives believed all along that they would be able to get a max offer sheet in restricted free agency, and they were proven right as the Suns tried to call their bluff. The Pacers' offer was the largest in the history of restricted free agency negotiations, trumping Otto Porter Jr's four-year, $107m deal in 2017.

It is unknown if the Suns could have signed him for a cheaper price, as ESPN's report claims the franchise made no offer to Ayton in the interim, likely in the hope that the limited amount of teams with cap space would mean they could match a more palatable offer sheet.

The Suns center is one of just nine players to average at least 15 points and 10 rebounds since he entered the league four seasons ago, while shooting just a hair under 60 per cent from the field for his career.

He will make $30m in the upcoming season, slightly escalating each year to eventually reach $35m in 2025-26.

Since the Suns opted to play out the process through restricted free agency, it now means Ayton will have significantly more control of any potential trades he could be involved in for the next year.

He is unable to be traded before January 15, and even after that he will have veto powers until the end of the season. Due to the Pacers presenting an offer sheet, they will be unable to trade for Ayton for at least one year.

Restricted free agent (RFA) center Deandre Ayton has agreed to a maximum four-year, $133million offer sheet with the Indiana Pacers, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday.

Ayton’s current team, the Phoenix Suns, will have 48 hours to decide whether to match the offer – the largest RFA offer in league history – or allow him to leave without compensation.

The top overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, Ayton has developed into a core player on a Suns team that reached the 2021 NBA Finals and led the league with 64 wins this past season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old is one of nine players to average 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last four seasons (minimum 200 games played over that span).

Ayton’s future in Phoenix had come into question, however, after he was benched for much of the second half of the Suns’ Game 7 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals. Reports also surfaced that the Suns were reluctant to offer the Arizona product a maximum extension after just giving All-Star Devin Booker a four-year, $224 million supermax deal.

By agreeing to the offer sheet, Ayton has greatly restricted the possible avenues in which he could have left the Suns. He is now unable to be included in sign-and-trade deals this off-season, and if Phoenix decide to match – which they are expected to do – they will not be able to trade Ayton until January 15.

The Suns would also not be allowed to trade Ayton to the Pacers for at least a year, and Ayton would have the ability to veto any trade in the first year of the contract.

The previous largest offer sheet in NBA history was a four-year, $107m deal offered to former Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. by the Brooklyn Nets in 2017. The Wizards ultimately matched the offer.

In 236 career regular-season games, Ayton has averaged 16.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks while shooting 59.9 percent from the field. 

For comparison, the Dallas Mavericks selected Luka Doncic two picks after the Suns selected Ayton in the 2018 draft, and have since rewarded him with a five-year, $215m max extension.

Devin Booker has established himself as one of the game's elite players, and now he is going to be paid like one. 

Booker and the Phoenix Suns have agreed to terms on a four-year, $214million supermax contract extension, according to multiple reports.

The extension will begin after the two years and $70m Booker has remaining on his current deal signed in 2019. 

Among the NBA's most consistent scorers, Booker has been an All-Star each of the last three seasons and finished fourth in the MVP race in 2021-22.

He was selected to the All-NBA First Team this past year after averaging a career-high 26.8 points to go with 5.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He was joined on the first team by Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic.

Booker, who was entering the final year of a five-year, $158m deal, was drafted 13th overall by the Suns in 2015 out of Kentucky.

He improved his scoring average each of his first four seasons and is one of only three players to average at least 25 points in the past four seasons, along with Antetokounmpo and LeBron James.

Booker will also be the cover athlete for the NBA 2K23, per sources. Booker will be among an exclusive group to appear on the cover that includes Doncic, James, Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant.

As the Suns worked on the Booker deal on Thursday, the team were also reported to be near the front of the queue for Durant, who has requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets.

The Phoenix Suns have hired Morgan Cato to their front office, making her among the highest-ranking women employed by an NBA team.  

The Suns have named Cato the franchise’s assistant general manager and vice president of basketball operations, placing her directly under general manager James Jones in the Phoenix front office. Cato is the first woman of colour to be named a team’s assistant GM.  

Cato spent the past 10 years working for the league office in New York, reporting to president of league operations Byron Spruell and strategising several growth initiatives, including the Basketball Africa League.  

With the Suns, Cato will help oversee front-office personnel decisions, coaching development and player engagement, ESPN reported.  

After an NBA best 64-18 record last season, Phoenix suffered a disappointing second-round playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks and now face a pivotal offseason.  

Among the most pressing items for the Suns’ front office will be determining the future of former number-one overall pick and restricted free agent Deandre Ayton, along with fellow centers JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo, who are unrestricted free agents.  

The Suns do not currently have any picks in the Thursday’s NBA Draft.  

Nikola Jokic was named in the All-NBA first team ahead of Joel Embiid and alongside Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Devin Booker in Tuesday evening's announcement.

Jokic pipped fellow center Embiid for the NBA's 2021-22 MVP award earlier this month and the Serbian again got the nod in that position in the All-NBA first team, although the Philadelphia 76ers star was eligible as a forward but also missed out.

While Jokic and Embiid split votes, Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo was the only unanimous selection in the first team.

Antetokounmpo became the first player over the past 50 years to be a unanimous selection to the All-NBA first team in four straight seasons.

Tatum and Booker were both selected to the All-NBA first team for the first time.

Embiid led the selections for the second team, alongside DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Ja Morant.

LeBron James was named to the third team, with Pascal Siakam, Karl-Anthony Towns, Chris Paul and Trae Young.

Grant Williams scored a career-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 on Sunday.

Williams went seven-of-18 from the perimeter to lead the Celtics, with four others scoring in double digits in Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard, who added 14 points off the bench.

The 23-year-old's seventh triple of the night came at an important time, too, with the Bucks starting to gather momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Tatum was pivotal on both ends despite seven turnovers, putting up 23 points on 50 per cent shooting, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Celtics were able to restrict Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring easily, with the reigning finals MVP getting 25 points but on 10-of-26 shooting, along with his 20 rebounds and nine assists.

With the series-deciding win, the Celtics have set up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, facing the first-seeded Miami Heat.

Doncic dominates as Mavs demolish Suns

Both of the contestants in the 2021 NBA finals were knocked out in same night in Game 7s on Sunday, with the Dallas Mavericks blowing out the first-seeded Phoenix Suns 123-90.

The Suns scored a disappointingly low 27 points on their home floor in the first half, as threes rained in on the other end, and the Mavs went into the main change with a 30-point lead.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker went missing when they were needed most, generating little in terms of dribble penetration and combining for 21 points on seven-of-22 shooting.

Conversely, Luka Doncic had come into Game 7 with shooting splits of 45.7 and 29.6 per cent but lit the Suns up with the season on the line, finishing with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

More importantly, Doncic was able to get his teammates good looks, with Dallas shooting an 48.7 per cent from the perimeter.

The Mavericks will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. 

Luka Doncic lauded the belief in the Dallas Mavericks dressing room after playing a starring role in a 123-90 thrashing of the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavs advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they will face the Golden State Warriors, courtesy of a dominant showing in Game 7 against the top-seeded Suns.

Doncic had as many points as Phoenix in the first half, making a mockery of the Mavs' status as supposed underdogs.

And it came as no surprise to Doncic, who finished with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

“I know we were the underdogs,” he said.

"Everybody had the Suns to win this one, but the whole locker room believed and that's what won us the game."

Asked whether he knew he alone had matched the home team's total first-half points tally, Doncic said: "Yeah, of course.

"I'm having fun. I always say when I'm having fun it is the way I best play.

"Honestly, I'm really happy, man. You can't get this smile off my face right now.

"I think we deserve this. We were playing hard the whole series – maybe a couple of games here we were not ourselves.

"But we knew we came here with a statement Game 7. We believed, our locker room believed, everybody believed, so I'm just happy."

Chris Paul vowed to carry on playing after the Phoenix Suns suffered more playoff heartbreak by going down to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semi-finals.

A year ago, the Suns blew a 2-0 lead to lose the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks but responded by recording the best regular-season record in the league this campaign.

Once again the Suns were heavily fancied and even more so after taking a 2-0 lead against the Mavs.

But on Sunday it was a feeling of deja vu as the Suns were blown out of the water in a 123-90 defeat to crash out of contention.

At one stage the Mavs led by 46 points, while the Suns had just 27 in a disappointing first half – veteran Paul not registering his first field goal until the third quarter.

With Paul now 37 years of age, and reportedly playing with a quad issue, naturally there was talk of retirement, but the 12-time All Star plans to continue as he chases that elusive first NBA championship.

"You play long enough and you don't win, every time you lose, they're going to say it was your best chance," Paul told reporters.

"But I think for me, us, it's we'll be right back next year. I'll tell you that much.

"I'm not retiring tomorrow, thank God. Hopefully, I'm healthy coming back. But I'm [going to] keep playing."

Paul's series mirrored the Suns' fortunes. He averaged 23.5 points and had just two turnovers in the Suns' opening two victories but in the following five that slipped to just 9.4 points and an average 3.6.

Paul said now the Suns simply have to "get back to work".

"It was just a tough game. All season long, we tried to lean on our defence and tonight our defence wasn't there and our offence wasn't there either," Paul said. 

"I think coach [Monty Williams] said a lot of it. You play all season to be in this situation and it didn't work out for us.

"There's probably no greater message than get back to work. At the end of the day you at least had a shot at it, one of 16 teams in the playoffs and a great regular season, but we didn't reach our goal.

"I don't think anything matters except everybody just trying to get a little bit better for next season.

"It's tough. Obviously we got further last year, but we didn't reach the goal. We've got a lot of young guys on our team and I think, even just this experience of this playoffs is better than not. It's unfortunate in the fashion that we lost, but we've got to try to figure out ways to get better.

"At the end of the day, they just executed better than we did. Defensively, we just never caught up with the ball.

"They were making tough shots, they were getting threes, lay-ups, a little bit of everything and we never made the game competitive."

Grant Williams scored a career-high 27 points as the Boston Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, defeating the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks 109-81 in Game 7 on Sunday.

Williams went seven-of-18 from the perimeter to lead the Celtics, with four others scoring in double digits in Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Payton Pritchard, who added 14 points off the bench.

The 23-year-old's seventh triple of the night came at an important time, too, with the Bucks starting to gather momentum at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Tatum was pivotal on both ends despite seven turnovers, putting up 23 points on 50 per cent shooting, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Celtics were able to restrict Giannis Antetokounmpo from scoring easily, with the reigning finals MVP getting 25 points but on 10-of-26 shooting, along with his 20 rebounds and nine assists.

With the series-deciding win, the Celtics have set up a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference finals, facing the first-seeded Miami Heat.

Doncic dominates as Mavs demolish Suns

Both of the contestants in the 2021 NBA finals were knocked out in same night in Game 7s on Sunday, with the Dallas Mavericks blowing out the first-seeded Phoenix Suns 123-84.

The Suns scored a disappointingly low 27 points on their home floor in the first half, as threes rained in on the other end, and the Mavs went into the main change with a 30-point lead.

Chris Paul and Devin Booker went missing when they were needed most, generating little in terms of dribble penetration and combining for 21 points on seven-of-22 shooting.

Conversely, Luka Doncic had come into Game 7 with shooting splits of 45.7 and 29.6 per cent but lit the Suns up with the season on the line, finishing with 35 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

More importantly, Doncic was able to get his teammates good looks, with Dallas shooting an 48.7 per cent from the perimeter.

The Mavericks will now face the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals. 

The Miami Heat progressed to the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, comfortably defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90.

After the Golden State Warriors' anaemic performance in a closeout game on the road, the Heat showed no such trepidation and led by 20 at one stage, taking control in the third quarter with a 16-2 scoring run.

Jimmy Butler scored 14 points on six-of-nine shooting in that period as Miami put the proverbial foot on Philadelphia's throat, finishing with 32 points, eight rebounds and four assists against his former team.

James Harden went missing in the second half with Philadelphia's season on the line, meanwhile, taking only two shot attempts for the half while committing three turnovers to go with his four assists.

Now in their second ECF in three seasons, the Heat will face the winner of the series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.

Mavs take Suns to deciding game

The Dallas Mavericks are taking the Western Conference's first seed to seven games, after they blew the Phoenix Suns out 113-86.

Luka Doncic was very close to a triple-double with his side's season on the line, but his fingerprints were nevertheless all over Game 6, finishing with 33 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

Doncic's ability to find his teammates for open looks has been consistent in the series but their ability to knock them down has fluctuated. On Thursday, the Mavs shot 41 per cent from the perimeter for the win.

Devin Booker went two-of-10 with the game in the balance in the second and third quarters, as the Suns hoped to close the series out, finishing with 19 points on six-of-17 shooting.

Phoenix simply did not take care of the basketball, coughing it up 22 times with the Mavs scoring 29 points in transition off those turnovers.

The Miami Heat moved a step closer to progressing to the Eastern Conference Finals, rolling past the Philadelphia 76ers in a 120-85 win on Tuesday.

The Heat comfortably took a 3-2 series lead as the Sixers collapsed in the third quarter, going three-of-12 from the floor for the period aside from Joel Embiid.

While the Heat started strong, Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey were taken out with eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Butler was able to get to his spots on the floor, going nine-of-15 shooting on the way to 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the night.

As a team, Miami had a 20-point advantage (56-36) for points in the paint while seven players scored in double figures in the 35-point win, the joint largest margin of victory in the playoffs this season.

Suns surge in second-half to Game 5 win

The Phoenix Suns also claimed an important Game 5 victory on Tuesday, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 110-80.

Similar to the Philadelphia 76ers in the earlier game, the Mavericks started out ice cold and turned the ball over following the main break, giving up a double-digit lead to start the third quarter.

What was a one-point margin lead for the Suns at half-time quickly blew out to 17 by the middle of the third, when Deandre Ayton scored to make it 67-50.

The Western Conference's first seed did not look back from there, as Devin Booker finished the game with 28 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

Dribble penetration and offensive rebounding created good looks for the Suns, who shot 37.5 per cent from beyond the arc, while the Mavs conversely shot at 25 per cent.

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams has won NBA Coach of the Year, beating fellow finalists Erik Spoelstra of the Miami Heat and the Memphis Grizzlies' Taylor Jenkins.

Williams narrowly missed out on 2020-21 award, with the New York Knicks' Tom Thibodeau edging the final tally by 11 votes, but he was the clear choice this season after leading the Suns to a league-best 64-18 record.

As well as winning eight more games than any other team, it also set a new franchise record for wins in a season, and legitimised last year's run to the NBA Finals as more than a fluke.

The news was first broken by Suns star Devin Booker, who tweeted: "Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams has been voted the NBA's COY, book tells sources. A formal announcement is expected later today."

Williams, a former first-round pick in his own right, spent 10 years in the league as a player, and became the youngest head coach in the NBA in 2010 when he earned the head coaching role of the New Orleans Hornets at 38 years old.

After his departure from New Orleans and five years as an assistant, Williams was hired by the Suns in 2019, guiding his team to a memorable 8-0 run in the 'bubble' during his first season.

He has followed that season with two consecutive National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year awards, and his first official NBA Coach of the Year.

The Suns are a combined 115-39 over the past two regular seasons.

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