The Boston Celtics ultimately removed themselves from the James Harden sweepstakes, as the Houston Rockets remained bullish on their asking price. In return, the Celtics kept their young, talented core intact, while Harden was shipped off to Brooklyn in a four-team deal.
Early returns on the Harden-Nets fit have been phenomenal. Brooklyn has yet to lose a game with the former MVP in their lineup, albeit just two games, as Harden has been a near walking triple-double, averaging 33.0 points, 13.0 assists and 9.0 rebounds per game. With Brooklyn surging up the Eastern Conference ranks, riding a four-game win streak and backed by the league’s most intriguing “Big Three,” could Danny Ainge be pressed into swinging a massive deal to keep pace in the conference?
Arguably the biggest name potentially up for grabs ahead of the March 25 trade deadline is Washington Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal. Averaging an absurd 34.9 ppg, Beal is far and above the league’s leading scorer, yet Washington has just three wins to show for it. The 27-year-old has publically reprimanded the team’s defensive efforts and voiced displeasure with his prolific scoring nights going to waste.
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Potential Hiccups in Acquiring Beal
It’s evident the Beal-Wizard’s marriage may be nearing a divorce, despite Washington likely preferring to patch things up. The question is, were the two-time All-Star dangled at the deadline, could Boston swoop in to strike a blockbuster deal? The Athletic’s Jared Weiss doesn’t appear too high on the prospects, claiming “It doesn’t seem like it” when asked if there was any shot Boston could land Beal. Weiss zeroed in on the shortage of trade exception money the Celtics received in the Gordon Hayward deal and how it aligns with taking on Beal’s $127 million-plus contract.
“For some reason, the Hayward trade exception came in just $100,000 short of being enough to take in Beal’s salary,” Weiss wrote. “I don’t know how the Celtics couldn’t get Hayward and Charlotte to agree to give him an extra couple hundred thousand in his first year to make the exception just big enough, but go figure.”
Kemba Walker & Russell Westbrook Key Pieces in Potential Beal Deal
Despite his doubts, the insider proceeded to outline what would have to occur for the Celtics to ultimately swing a Beal deal. Spoiler, there’ a lot of moving pieces, and two aging point guards are in the center of it.
Here’s what Weiss had to say:
“So if they want to trade for Beal, they pretty much have to move [Kemba] Walker,” Weiss said. “It makes sense for Walker to be the one to move in a Beal deal, but you would have to find a third party that would be willing to send a lot of draft capital Washington’s way. I’d imagine if Washington trades Beal, it’s going to try to find someone to take Russell Westbrook too with some draft compensation being rerouted to that team.”
So you’re saying there’s a chance…
Difficult Trade Pieces
The involvement of Kemba Walker would essential be a must for the trade to pan out, which could prove difficult, considering the 30-year-old is just one game into his return for a knee procedure and will need to rebuild his stock.
As for Westbrook, he’s averaging a near triple-double in Washington, yet his high-usage low-efficiency play matched with a $132.6 million price tag makes him one of the most difficult pieces to move in all of basketball.
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