It appears that disgruntled Houston Rockets superstar James Harden’s list of desired trade destinations has grown to include the Portland Trail Blazers and the Boston Celtics.
Citing an article from Sam Amick and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Bleacher Report wrote on Thursday that Harden added the Celtics and Trail Blazers as two other possible landing spots if the Rockets decide to trade him. Previously, the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks were mentioned among the shooting guard’s preferred destinations. A separate story from ESPN 97.5 Houston’s John Granato also suggested late last week that the Celtics and Toronto Raptors had replaced the aforementioned four teams as Harden’s top favorites.
Talking about the players could offer in a deal for Harden, Bleacher Report wrote that the basic assumption for the former team is that fourth-year forward Jayson Tatum would be “untouchable.” The outlet suggested that the Celtics could send a package featuring wingman Jaylen Brown, combo guard Marcus Smart, and one or two future draft picks in order to land the three-time NBA scoring champion.
Such a move, as further noted, might not sit well with the team’s fans due to Brown and Smart’s statuses as fan favorites. However, the site added that it won’t be a surprise if general manager Danny Ainge decides to move two popular players, as he had done something similar when he traded Isaiah Thomas to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving.
“Trading Thomas after he played through a hip injury didn’t ingratiate Ainge much to players around the league, and Irving wound up leaving after two frustrating seasons, but Harden would clearly give Boston a better chance at making the Finals.”
As for the Blazers, they were described as the “more interesting” destination, as they may be willing, though not quite able to land Harden. Bleacher Report speculated that starting two-guard C.J. McCollum will likely be the centerpiece of any possible trade package, given his status as superstar point guard Damian Lillard’s longtime backcourt partner. However, the outlet emphasized that talented as he is, McCollum is “nowhere near Harden’s stratosphere,” and at 29 years old, no longer qualifies as a young player.
Aside from McCollum, the publication recommended including young backup wingmen Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, as well as future draft picks in any theoretical package for Harden. But with the absence of a true blue-chip talent apart from Lillard, the site predicted that Portland’s best option might be to find another team to make it a three-way deal for the superstar.