The Houston Rockets reported offer to the Boston Celtics for James Harden leaked and it was simply too much. Let’s break it down.
On Thursday morning, Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge commented for the first time on the James Harden trade rumors. It seems as though the price that the Houston Rockets were asking from the Cs was too steep, leading to the Brooklyn Nets ultimately swooping in to grab the superstar.
Ainge spoke on 98.5 The Sports Hub the day after the trade, stating that the team did have conversations about the former MVP:
“Yeah, we had conversations regarding James, not recently but yeah, we did have conversations.”
He went on to say that the price for Harden was too high, essentially confirming many sources and fans’ opinions on the situation.
Later on, it was reported that the asking price from Houston was Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and draft compensation. This is a more favorable offer than what they ended up receiving from Brooklyn, and it does not make sense for the Boston Celtics to part with their young core just yet.
By agreeing to this trade, they would push all their chips in for an uncertain aging superstar, creating a two-year championship or bust window.
Brown is the early frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award, as he and Jayson Tatum are the best young duo in the NBA. Only in his age 24 season, it makes no sense to trade him as you have him under contract for the next four years.
In a league where more and more franchise cornerstone players are switching teams, Marcus Smart seems like a Celtic-lifer. His contract is up after the 2021-22 season and will be looking to re-up his deal with the Boston Celtics by all accounts.
By trading Smart, the Celtics would be losing the best perimeter defensive player in the league, a capable ball-handler, and the heart and soul of the team. Any trade idea that has Smart in it should be written off as extremely unlikely to happen considering what he gives to the city and the team.
As for draft compensation, Boston has the majority of their picks for the foreseeable future.
As a team who is looking to contend for the greater part of this decade, look for them to give up their draft capital in exchange for veteran pieces that can help them come playoff time. Ainge has preferred to hang on to his first-round draft picks over the years, using two of his three in the 2020 draft, but look for that trend to subside as the Celtics become a more reputable contender.
Therefore, rather than give up their future in exchange for an uncertain future, look for Boston to make smaller moves around the trade deadline, perhaps acquiring some of the Rockets’ pieces in their upcoming fire sale (P.J. Tucker).
The James Harden saga has come to an end for Boston Celtics fans, but it was certainly a fun ride while it lasted.
In the end, the asking price was far too high.
They made the right decision.