Are The Celtics The Landing Spot For James Harden?
While most of us are eating Christmas cookies and opening presents, James Harden is most likely eating and open a different kind of present. Get it… he likes strip clubs. Anyway, Harden is being miserable while he waits to be traded by the Rockets. Who will wind up dealing for Harden?
Our Australian correspondent Jarrod Prosser did a piece on potential landing spots for Harden. However, it’s starting to feel more and more like if a Harden trade comes to fruition, a darkhorse team is going to land the beard.
Think about it if you’re the Rockets. Daryl Morey leaves town. Are you really just going to let him pet your belly and hand him Harden? Brooklyn already has Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. A Harden deal might be hard to swallow on both sides ruining potential chemistry with the Nets.
I’m not sure why NBA teams feel the need to do this but often times they prefer to send superstars to the opposite conference in trades. If presented with an equal offer, Houston will likely want to send Harden to the Eastern Conference.
Now let’s get rid of the teams that obviously aren’t contenders in the East: Atlanta, Indiana, Orlando, Cleveland, Washington, Detroit, Charlotte, Chicago, and New York.
That leaves a potential trade to Milwaukee, Toronto, Miami, and the Boston Celtics. Giannis Antetokounmpo already doesn’t like Harden so that feels unlikely. I’m sure he would rather just have Khris Middleton. Miami has already declared they’re out on the Harden sweepstakes. Mostly because they don’t quite have the assets unless they’re throwing all of the young players in the mix who are super important to their last season’s Finals run.
Is it really a two-horse race between the Raptors and Celtics? The only problem is, the Raptors don’t have a trade package that makes sense. Pascal Siakam is Toronto’s franchise player. Toronto wants to build around him, not trade Siakam.
Without Siakam in the deal, the only other piece the Raptors can send out to match a trade is Kyle Lowry. Is that really the main piece you want in a trade if you’re Houston? Lowry will turn 35 in March and is on an expensive expiring contract. Is he even someone you want to re-sign? The decline surely is coming soon.
Does that leave the Boston Celtics? As weird as it is to say, a trade makes sense in more ways than one. Unless you take the Ben Simmons deal (which I doubt Houston wants bad press for dealing him to Morey) Kemba Walker becomes the singular best player you can acquire in a trade.
Walker is currently out for the start of the year trying to heal his knees. Is that a red flag? You bet. However, if Houston is out here trading for John Wall who hasn’t played a game in two-plus years, I’m not sure they care about injury history. Walker has made four consecutive All-Star appearances. Houston can’t acquire a better singular player in a trade.
It was reported this offseason that Danny Ainge was offering Kemba to the entire league in an attempt to land Jrue Holiday. It’s no secret that Walker isn’t untouchable. Maybe Ainge is worried about Walker long term. If Ainge offered Kemba for Holiday, why wouldn’t he do the same with a superior player in Harden?
Harden weirdly fits well in Boston. He could take that Kemba role as the guy who brings the ball up the floor. There’s been a lot of point guards who have had success in Brad Stevens’ system. If a scrub like Isaiah Thomas can average 29 points a game, then Harden will fit in just fine.
Boston also has enough defense to cover Harden. It’s not like Kemba is a defensive wizard either. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart are all superior defenders.
Add in a few first round picks and call it into the league office? Hell, you can swap Robert and Grant Williams in there instead as the throw ins to sweeten the trade.
What initially seems like a crazy trade doesn’t feel as outrageous. Harden has damaged his trade value. The last time an NBA superstar was this unhappy was Kyrie Irving. Boston swooped in and struck with the poo poo plater of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Ante Zizic.
Don’t rule out the Celtics landing Harden. A trio of Tatum, Brown, and the beard has a nice little ring to it.