Although he started the 2020-21 NBA season with the Houston Rockets, All-Star shooting guard James Harden is expected to be one of the hottest names on the market before the 2021 trade deadline. Despite efforts from the Rockets to convince him to stay, “The Beard” seems determined to leave Space City and start a new journey somewhere else. In recent months, Harden has already been linked to several teams that are in dire need of additional star power to boost their chances of bringing home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
One of the potential landing spots for Harden is the Boston Celtics. According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, the Celtics could acquire “The Beard” from the Rockets by sending them a package that includes Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Aaron Nesmith, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2023 first-round pick. In the proposed scenario, Boston would also be receiving Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker.
“Boston could put together a package leading with Brown, who is off to the best start of his career. He fits the profile of a young building-block-type star that the Rockets have required in any Harden trade. Expanding the return beyond Harden to include Tucker and Gordon would give the Celtics the depth they’ve been lacking in the early part of the season. Brown is just 24 years old, though, a two-way player and well on his way to being an All-Star for the first time. He has steadily grown his game over four-plus seasons in Boston and has taken on a larger offensive role in a big way this season.”
Trading a player with huge star potential like Brown would be a difficult decision for the Celtics, but it’s highly unlikely for them to get the Rockets’ attention without sacrificing him or Jayson Tatum. If Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge could choose, he would likely prefer to keep Tatum and move Brown. Sacrificing the former No. 3 overall pick would undeniably be worth it for the Celtics if it means acquiring an MVP-caliber guard like Harden.
Harden’s arrival in Boston would further improve the team’s offensive efficiency which currently ranks No. 6 in the league, scoring 111.3 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN. He would give the Celtics one of the best scorers in league history, as well as a decent playmaker and an elite three-point shooter. This season, he’s averaging 29.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, 11.0 assists, and 1.2 steals while shooting 45.7 percent from the field and 38.8 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.
However, going after Harden also comes with a huge risk. If things don’t go as expected, bringing him to Beantown could do more harm than good to their team. They wouldn’t only be losing Brown and other precious assets, but the move could also slow the development of Tatum and ruin everything that they have built in the past few years.