James Harden has been talked about in the same breath as the Boston Celtics–as well as a few Eastern Conference contenders. Here are 3 deals that send him all over the Atlantic Division.
We’ve officially reached the critical mass portion of the offseason where the man who averaged 35 points per game the past two years, James Harden, wants a trade away from the Houston Rockets. What makes it critical mass, you ask? The Boston Celtics are in the conversation, with boston.com bringing up the possibilities of what the Cs can offer…and what the Rockets would take:
The Celtics cannot trade the $28.5 million trade exception they received for Gordon Hayward because Harden’s salary ($41.2 million) is larger than the exception.
Every other player on the Celtics’ roster is available to trade. Because the Celtics are over the salary cap, they must match salaries in any trade and with Harden’s large salary, they’d more than likely have to trade two of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart. The Rockets likely wouldn’t want Walker due to his age (30), recent knee issues, and their recent acquisition of John Wall.
As Connor Roche points out, the more likely trade package would involve some combination of Boston’s recent draft picks of the last six years outside of Taum:
That leaves Brown and Smart as the two players who would likely have to go in order for Harden to come to Boston. Brown ($23.7 million) and Smart’s ($13.4 million) salaries would be enough to match Harden’s salary, according to ESPN’s Trade Machine. The Celtics could also trade any of Robert Williams, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith, and Payton Pritchard (all of whom the Celtics have picked in the first round of the draft over the last three years) to help sweeten the pot.
With that in mind, the Houdini has concocted the 3 following James Harden blockbusters that could happen before the season–and we know that because he was abruptly traded to Houston in the same fashion!
Why the Boston Celtics do it
Boston adding Ben Simmons as a playmaking power forward allows the team to surround Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum with two All-Star floor generals that could share the floor due to Kemba Walker’s ability to share the spotlight and his long-range shooting abilities.
Giving up Marcus Smart and a future first round pick is a fair price to pay to bring on P.J. Tucker and Mattise Thybulle as well.
Why the Houston Rockets do it
If Harden is going to hold out of training camp, the price tag for the $41 million man can’t be too high. Marcus Smart and two future first round picks is a nice reward for taking on Tobias Harris’ contract. If Harris turns out to be a better fit in H-Town, he and Smart are a nice way to keep the team competitive in the coming years when they lack a draft pick and don’t have a reason to lose.
Why the Philadelphia 76ers do it
Giving up an All-Star lefty point guard who can get to the rim at will is difficult, but it is easier when you are replacing him with an even better ball-handler who can actually shoot the ball.
Harden reuniting with Daryl Morey in Philadelphia makes too much sense.