After an exciting start to the opening week of the NBA offseason that was filled with shocking moves and unexpected trade demands, the Boston Celtics are now reportedly all-in on acquiring James Harden.
Conflicting reports suggested otherwise, Tuesday, but from the evening into the morning of NBA Draft Day, all signs are pointing towards Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge making a late-push to trade for Harden, per Heavy.com sources.
While the Nets & Sixers are believed to be frontrunners for James Harden, Boston Celtics are making a late push for Harden. They are trying to flip Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward for picks and young assets that would appeal to Houston, frantically.
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) November 17, 2020
One report even went as far as saying Harden and Ainge were expected to meet face-to-face. One thing to keep a close eye on is if the Celtics can trade up in Wednesday’s Draft.
Report: Atlanta Hawks ‘In-Play’ For Gordon Hayward
Boston will attempt to send Hayward to the Hawks in exchange for tradeable contracts and are eyeing a top lottery selection that they can package for the 3-time scoring champion. According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Celtics are doing everything they can to acquire a top-three pick.
The Celtics keep searching for trade pathways to get into the top three of tonight's NBA Draft, league sources say. 10-ish hours left to find one …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 18, 2020
After coming to an agreement with Gordon Hayward to extend the deadline on his player-option for the 2020-21 season to Thursday evening, Ainge has bought himself some more time to put together his best packaged-deal. At this point, the Atlanta Hawks appear to be front-runners to land Hayward, if he’s dealt at all.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Celtics are going to have to entice the Hawks with another asset. Otherwise, Hayward and Atlanta can come to terms on an agreement after Gordon declines Boston’s option before Thursday afternoon’s deadline.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, as Haynes mentions, the Hawks are in the market for a secondary playmaker to place alongside All-Star guard Trae Young.
How Can The Boston Celtics Land James Harden?
As for the Harden sweepstakes, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets are considered favorites. However, if Ainge were to put together a deal headlined by Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and a top-three pick in Wednesday’s draft; can Brooklyn or Philly make a better offer?
Hypothetically, either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid would be on the move in this trade scenario. However, Brown, 24, along with arguably the best-defending guard in the league; may offer a little more upside, if you’re the Rockets.
And while the Brooklyn Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert, and Jarrett Allen talents’ are proven at this point in their respective careers, Brown and Smart’s experience in the postseason gives the Celtics tandem the slight edge in value. Still, why would Ainge entertain such a shakeup?
Report: Danny Ainge Was Throwing Kemba Walker At “Everybody”
The looming effects of Kemba Walker’s ankle injury was certainly a concern throughout the playoffs. The All-Star point guard wasn’t his usual self; he didn’t attack the rim with the same velocity, he got burnt on defensive assignments in the Eastern Conference Finals and would have the shortest offseason in league history to recuperate before starting things back up again.
Ainge told reporters he didn’t expect Walker to miss the start of the season but that he would be monitored closely throughout the 2021 campaign. Yet, Ainge was reportedly selling his Kemba shares in the NBA faster than Steve Madden did to Stratton Oakmont in “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The Athletic’s Zach Harper reported Ainge offered Walker to “everybody” in an attempt to acquire draft picks that would have been sent to the Pelicans before New Orleans traded Jrue Holiday. If Ainge, one year removed from inking Walker to a max, four-year deal, is looking to move Kemba this early, it means this is health-related.
Out of the list of reportedly available point guards before this week, Holiday made the most sense in this proposed swap for Walker. Now, Harden is a long-shot, and someone Ainge won’t overpay for but it’s clear that the Celtics GM is pulling for a new face.
Harden, a polarizing superstar, who Ainge believes can lead the Celtics to a new era in Boston.