Riding high off an opening-night victory over last season’s No. 1 seeded Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics may soon be adding even more firepower to their already explosive lineup. Not just any firepower, but three-time NBA scoring champion-type firepower.
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Celtics Added to List of James Harden’s Preferred Landing Spots
James Harden trade rumors have been swirling for quite some time now. The perception to many has been that the former league MVP has had one foot out the door since Mike D’antoni moved on this offseason. First, it was the Brooklyn Nets who were pegged as the preferred destination for Harden. Now, as time has gone on, that list has continued to expand and on Thursday, reports surfaced that claim Harden has added two new teams to that list.
Sam Amick and Kelly Iko of The Athletic have reported that the eight-time All-Star would be open to a deal that would either send him to the Boston Celtics or Portland Trail Blazers.
Sources told The Athletic that the Houston Rockets guard has recently deemed the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers among his preferred destinations. Brooklyn and Philadelphia were the first teams to receive that distinction back in mid-December, followed by Miami and Milwaukee being added in the weeks thereafter.
While the Rockets are known to have had trade talks with teams that aren’t on Harden’s list, and Harden still has two seasons remaining on his deal with a player option worth $47.3 million for the 2022-23 campaign, his view of the situation will remain an important factor in any possible scenario. And with no deal in sight and his handling of the situation clearly complicating the trade market, it’s clear Harden has expanded his view of possible landing spots as a way to help facilitate his request. The viability of a possible deal with the Celtics or Trail Blazers is unclear at this time.
Is a Harden Trade in the Best Interest for the Celtics?
One would assume that forward Jayson Tatum is untouchable in the Celtics’ mind. His play thus far this season, albeit just one game, would seemingly back up that sentiment. The hero from Wednesday night’s home opener, the former Duke Blue Devil banked in a three-point dagger over Giannis Antetokounmpo to give the Cs their first victory of the 2020-21 season. Tatum went on to finish the night with 30 points and seven rebounds. He’s also fresh off a career-campaign in 2019-20 where he notched or tied new career-highs in points (30.0), three-point percentage (46.2), rebounds (7.0), steals (2.0) and blocks (1.0).
With Tatum likely out of the picture, the assumption appears to be that Tatum’s running-mate and Robin to his Batman, Jaylen Brown, would be the most likely centerpiece in a deal that would yield Harden. A projected package revolving around both Brown and guard Marcus Smart, as well as draft picks, would likely be what it would take to acquire what many would consider the best scorer in the league.
With that said, is it worth throwing off the chemistry of an already projected title contender, while also prying away a budding star in Brown, who is still just 24-years of age? That is the question Danny Ainge and the Celtics have likely already asked themselves and will continue to over the following days and weeks.
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