Celtics, Raptors Favorites To Land James Harden: Report

Getty Images Could TD Garden be home for James Harden?

The Houston Rockets are reportedly close to trading James Harden to the Eastern Conference and a recent report considers the Boston Celtics a favorite to land the 2018 NBA MVP. 

According to ESPN 97.5 Houston’s morning talk show host John Granato, an “impeccable” source told the host of The Bench that the Celtics along with the Toronto Raptors are the two-leading favorites.  

“An impeccable source says the Raptors and the Celtics are the favorite right now for James Harden,” Granato reports. “It’d be a package for Pascal Siakam and more or Jaylen Brown and more.” 

Report: ‘An Impeccable Source Says The Raptors & The Celtics Are The Favorite Right Now For James Harden’

That price tag for Harden sounds just about right. If the Rockets pull the trigger on parting ways with Harden, it’s going to take All-Star-caliber compensation to get a deal done, however, the “and more” part of the report is where things will get tricky in negotiating.

This isn’t the first time the Celtics have been tied to Harden. During the offseason, reports surfaced more than once, and two names that were often embedded into those findings were Brown and Marcus Smart.

Could this be where trade talks fell and will continue to fall through for Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge? Or, is this a false report released by Harden‘s camp to apply pressure to the Raptors to make a move?

James Harden To The Toronto Raptors For Pascal Siakam?

Toronto is an interesting destination for The Beard. Depending on which players would be involved in a proposed deal, of course, the Raptors could ultimately surround Harden with a group of well-balanced scoring.

Fred VanVleet is a reliable scorer alongside Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby shot over 41% from deep in the postseason last summer, and Norman Powell, who nearly doubled his point average last season (16) from 8.6 points per game, is coming into his own.

With the Brooklyn Nets, led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, as the projected favorite to win the East and Giannis Antetokounmpo signed with the Milwaukee Bucks for at least five more years, Raptors president Masai Ujiri could make a move that would wedge Toronto between the two upper-echelon teams in the East. The Celtics, much like the Raptors, must be asking themselves the same questions Ujiri’s proposed to his staff; is he a superstar that can help lead the team to a championship?

Can Jaylen Brown Lead The Boston Celtics To A Championship?

In regard to Brown, can he and Jayson Tatum eventually lead Boston to a title, and is it worth the wait?

Unlike the Celtics, Toronto got a taste of what a Siakam-led Raptors team looks like in the postseason, and it wasn’t pretty. Although the Raptors were essentially one-win away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back years, Pascal wasn’t the same player we saw in the regular season.

Still, due to the Bubble’s unique circumstances, was that a fair audition? As for Boston, we’ve certainly seen Brown rise to the occasion in-season and during the playoffs.

Kemba Walker & James Harden: The Boston Celtics’ Newest Backcourt?

However, this is the first time he’s heading into a season without an All-Star point guard closeby to pick up the pieces. Is Ainge looking at Harden as a potential last-second solution to what he thinks isn’t a champion-caliber team?

Before the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade with the Charlotte Hornets, Ainge would have had to package Kemba Walker in order to match salaries but now that he has a Traded Player Exception worth over $20 million; that’s not necessarily the case. This fact certainly makes a deal with the Celtics a bit more likely.

Regardless of how people feel about Harden’s antics, style of play, or attitude, bringing him in would undoubtedly unload the pressure weighing down on Kemba Walker’s return. That part isn’t up for debate.

The question mark outside of which other players would be shipped to Houston, of course, is how would Harden, Tatum, and Walker (after his return) mesh together? Is it a championship team?

Ainge, who was reportedly warned to stay away from Harden because of how toxic he was with the Rockets, would be taking the biggest risk of his GM career.

READ NEXT: Brad Stevens On 2021 Celtics’ Progress: ‘We’re Not Even Close’

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