Would Celtics Trade For James Harden, Botch Nets Superteam?

Getty Images James Harden in Boston?

News indicating that Houston Rockets duo Russell Westbrook and James Harden want out of Houston certainly sent the NBA world into a frenzy over the weekend, but when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Harden wants to head to Brooklyn to team up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant; it sent shockwaves to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.

The utter thought of the Nets forming a new ‘Big 3’ makes you wonder how a move like that would benefit the Rockets. Especially when you consider how many teams, including the Boston Celtics, could put together a better offer as NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg pointed out when he outlined an offer Danny Ainge could make that would prevent the Nets from dominating the East.

“Here’s the thing, the Celtics can outbid any offer the Nets make, if they desire – and that’s a BIG IF,” Forsberg writes. “The price for Boston to acquire Harden would be mighty steep, though. Any trade package almost certainly starts with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart to match salaries then includes a bevy of picks, which means that, ideally, the team makes the move before Wednesday’s draft when Boston owns three first-rounders.”

Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart & Draft Picks For James Harden?

The pricetag that consists of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and a bevy of draft picks, including all three of the Celtics’ first-round picks in Wednesday’s NBA Draft sounds just about right – it’s a lot – but that’s the price for an 8-time All-Star, 6-time All-NBA First Team, 3-time scoring champion, and 2018 MVP. Brown has All-Star selections coming his way, at least, it’s what his trajectory certainly suggests at this stage of his career, and Smart – a 2-time All-Defense First Team recipient – has already established himself as one of the game’s fiercest defenders.

It trumps anything the Nets can put together outside their superstars, Durant and Irving. However, as Forsberg points out, Harden could finagle his way to BK one way or another – we’ve seen superstars in the NBA pull it off in the past but this Harden situation is unique.

“A Nets offer built around Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t nearly as attractive,” Forsberg writes. “Then again, in a league where Anthony Davis can powerplay his way to his preferred Los Angeles destination, maybe that doesn’t matter. Harden, though, doesn’t have quite the same leverage and Houston shouldn’t sell low on an MVP player.”

Boston Celtics New ‘Big 3’: James Harden, Jayson Tatum & Kemba Walker?

Throw in a handful of draft picks and it’s as steep as I’d imagine Danny Ainge is willing to go. Then, the next question Celtics fans should ask themselves is; could a core of Harden-Jayson Tatum-Kemba Walker succeed in Boston?

The culture change would be enormous. Smart embodies the heart and soul of the team and Brown, whose voice stretched beyond the Celtics’ locker and into important NBA players’ union meetings, this year, has evolved into a vital team leader in his own right.

Boston would have to create a new identity but would still be considered a title-contending force alongside the Nets and the Miami Heat. Also, Brad Stevens would have his hands full.

Getting Harden to adhere to an offensive system of unselfish play would be a challenge. But is it worth it?

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