Could Ime Udoka-Kevin Durant connection aid Celtics' pursuit of Nets star?

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Could Ime Udoka play 'significant' role in luring Durant to Celtics? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Whether the Boston Celtics should pursue a trade for Kevin Durant -- especially if it includes Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart -- is up for debate.

But if they want to acquire the Brooklyn Nets star, they may have an ace in the hole in their head coach.

Ime Udoka has multiple connections with Durant; he worked with the superstar forward on the U.S. men's basketball team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as an assistant coach, and also spent a full season with Durant in 2020-21 as a Nets assistant. This video from the 2020 Olympics tells you all you need to know about Udoka and Durant's relationship.

Celtics Talk: Why trading Jaylen Brown for Kevin Durant is no slam dunk | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix believes that relationship could give the Celtics a leg up in the Durant sweepstakes.

"I think Ime Udoka could be a significant factor in recruiting Kevin Durant," Mannix said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition. "Not only because of the familiarity that Durant has with him because of the season they spent working together in Brooklyn, but Kevin Durant just saw what an Ime Udoka-coached team can do in the playoffs first-hand.

"Those four games against the Nets, they were close for the most part, but the Celtics won them with great strategy, great defense, great everything. So, Kevin Durant's familiar with that."

Durant shot just 38.6 percent from the floor in Brooklyn's first-round playoff series against Boston, as Udoka threw multiple defenders at Durant to wear down one of the game's best offensive players. After being the target of Udoka's successful coaching plan, Durant may be motivated to join a head coach he knows will put his players in a great position to succeed.

Mannix also pointed out that Durant has a close bond with veteran Al Horford, who is one of the Celtics' veteran leaders and played a pivotal role in their postseason success in 2022.

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"(Durant) also has, from what I've been told, a very good relationship with Al Horford, and that dates back years to the point where Horford actually considered joining Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City in 2016 when Durant was going through his free agency process," Mannix said.

Durant's reported list of preferred destinations still doesn't include Boston, per Mannix, and the Nets don't necessarily need to honor that list, either; they should trade Durant to the team that can offer the best possible return package.

But you could argue that team happens to be the Celtics, who can put together a combination of Brown, Smart or Derrick White and draft picks/a rotational player for Brooklyn. And while the C's have a very talented roster as is, it's worth noting that if they decide to trade for Durant, he'd be stepping into a relatively comfortable situation with a head coach he knows very well.