With Houston superstar James Harden in trade rumors, it is possible the Boston Celtics could pursue other members of the Rockets in a deal as well.
With the James Harden rumor mill churning out red-hot nuggets on a bi-daily basis, it’s important to remember that the Boston Celtics remain a player in the trade market. Danny Ainge has accumulated enough assets to the point where he can afford to make a move for a game-changing superstar, and Harden arguably registers as such.
Boston.com even penned a piece on the Cs potentially trading for Harden and what they can and cannot deal:
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.
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.
All of that sounds like a lot to get Harden, but any deal for the 8x All-Star would surely include other moving parts as well. Assuming other Rockets get dealt, here are 4 the Boston Celtics should target if the trade floodgates open: