On Wednesday, the Brooklyn Nets swung a trade that simultaneously turned the NBA world upside down and catapulted themselves to odds-on favorites in the Eastern Conference. In acquiring James Harden from the Houston Rockets, the Nets may have secured themselves the most fearsome “big three” in recent memory… that is, if their colossal abundance of personalities can mesh, on and off the court.
Despite the sudden surge for Brooklyn’s title hopes, they are still looking up at a slew of worthy adversaries in the East, namely the Boston Celtics who currently sit atop the conference with a record of 7-3.
Speaking of the Celtics, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge recently joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher & Rich,” where he admitted to the widely perceived notion that Boston had indeed snooped around a potential Harden deal.
Follow the Heavy on Celtics Facebook page for all the latest stories, rumors and viral content!
Ainge on Acquiring James Harden: ‘Wasn’t the Time for Us’
“Yeah, we had conversations regarding James, not recently but yeah, we did have conversations,” Ainge said on Thursday.
Readily linked to Harden in recent weeks, the Celtics ultimately chose to stay put, unwilling to budge on Houston’s lofty trade demands.
“We had numerous talks, but the price really wasn’t changing,” Ainge stated. “The price was really high for us, and it was something we really didn’t want to do. I’m not sure there was anybody — even the people within our organization that respected him and wanted him more, but I think unanimously, we decided it wasn’t the time for us and it wasn’t the price.”
According to Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal, Houston’s “price” revolved around Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and draft capital, demands that Ainge and the Celtics organization ultimately balked at. Still, the GM proceed to go out of his way send praise in Harden’s direction.
“James Harden is a great player,” the Celtics GM claimed. “He is one of the best offensive players that have played the game in any era. I think every team in the league respects him and fears him as an opponent.”
Boston Showed ‘No Significant Interest’ in Moving Jaylen Brown
In the end, Houston shipped Harden to Brooklyn as part of a four-team blockbuster deal that yielded the Rockets the services of Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, Victor Oladipo (for now), as well as a slew of draft picks.
In return, Boston kept its core intact and more importantly, backed budding star Jaylen Brown amid weeks of hearing his name engulfed by trade chatter.
Nevermind an All-Star selection, the 24-year-old Brown is playing like an All-NBA first-teamer. In 10 games this season, the Cal-Berkeley product is averaging a career-high 26.3 ppg (eighth-most in NBA) with a 53.9% field goal percentage (best among NBA’s top-16 scorers).
Brown’s ascension into stardom appears to have placed him beside the likes of teammate Jayson Tatum as virtual untouchables on the Celtics roster, as highlighted by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.
“Under no circumstances, if you’re Boston do you make any kind of offer that includes Jaylen Brown. That was really the Celtics’ mindset for the last couple of months,” Mannix said during a Wednesday guest appearance on NBC Sports’ Early Edition. “There was no significant interest in a deal that involved Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are simply operating on a completely different timetable than the Brooklyn Nets. Their stars are Kevin Durant at 32 (years old) and Kyrie Irving at 29. You’ve got the Celtics with (Marcus) Smart, (Jayson) Tatum, Brown, a whole bunch of younger guys they’re trying to develop in their mid to early 20s.”
- Celtics Linked as Potential Suitors for Rockets Forward: Report
- Ex-Celtic Believes Team Could Strike Trade for 2x All-Star
- ‘Force of Nature’: Celtic Among NBA’s ‘Most Underappreciated Players’‘
- Celtics Rumors: James Harden ‘Headed East’, Says Analyst
For more Celtics content, follow @VinnySomma on Twitter.