In a recent article, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report created a list of realistic trades that could happen in the upcoming 2020 NBA Draft. These potential deals include a three-way blockbuster deal that would send James Harden to the Boston Celtics and Russell Westbrook to the New York Knicks. In the proposed scenario, the Celtics would receive Harden and PJ Tucker, the Knicks would get Westbrook, and the Houston Rockets would acquire Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, the No. 14, 26, and 30 overall picks, and a 2020 first-rounder.
Sacrificing a player with huge superstar potential like Brown would undeniably be a difficult decision for the Celtics, but it may be worth it, especially if acquiring an MVP-caliber player like Harden. Swartz believes that the addition of Harden to their core of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, and Marcus Smart would boost the Celtics’ chances of beating powerhouse teams like the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, and the Brooklyn Nets in the battle for Eastern Conference supremacy.
“The Celtics have the assets to pull off a trade for the 2018 MVP, armed with young talent and picks, including three first-rounders in this draft. This is an all-in move for the C’s, one that shoots them past the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat straight to the top of the Eastern Conference. It also prevents the Brooklyn Nets from trading for Harden and creating their own Big Three. Harden brings his 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals to a Celtics starting lineup that would also feature Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Tucker and Daniel Theis, with Marcus Smart serving as sixth man.”
If the trade becomes a reality, it would not only be beneficial for the Celtics, but also for the Knicks and the Celtics. For the Knicks, the suggested deal would enable them to fulfill their dream of adding a legitimate superstar to the roster. Westbrook may not be enough for the Knicks to return to title contention, but he could help them end their playoff drought and bring back the excitement and energy to Madison Square Garden in the 2020-21 NBA season. If things go well in Westbrook’s first year in New York, it could make them a more attractive destination for superstar free agents in the summer of 2021.
Meanwhile, the potential package would give the Rockets enough assets to jumpstart a full-scale rebuild in the post-Harden era. Brown could immediately replace Harden as the new face of the franchise and the centerpiece of a prospective title-contending team in Houston. Knox, Randle, and Portis are still young enough to be part of Houston’s long-term plan, while Hayward could be flipped for future draft assets before next year’s trade deadline.