The Boston Celtics are title contenders but have yet to take that last step into making the finals. The team has holes to fill, and this offseason has the potential to patch up what the team lacks. There are tons of disgruntled stars in the league, some are free agents, some demand trades and one, in particular, is in a terrible situation.
That one player had recently lost a future hall of fame coach in Mike D’Antoni, and a very popular and aggressive general manager in Daryl Morey. James Harden could be seeing a new team by the end of this offseason. As his former general manager, Morey had been very stern about not trading the superstar guard. But with his untimely departure, many believe the organization wants to start a rebuild.
Harden has spent his last eight seasons with the Rockets. During that tenure, the team had never missed the playoffs, and for the past five seasons have been considered title contenders. Harden has been surrounded by another star since his arrival in 2012. From the last few years of a dominant Dwight Howard to a floor general in Chris Paul, to an athletic playmaker in Russell. Harden has only been to the finals once, and that was when he was the sixth man in Oklahoma City. The Rockets have yet to reach the finals and have been underperforming year in and year out. Some of the Rockets’ poor performances are due to injured players. The Rockets are also in a terrible position for the future.
They have been trading all their future assets in players and picks into what have been awful trades. The most recent trade that damaged the Rockets future was the Paul for Westbrook deal that sent two first round picks and Paul over to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Westbrook. Westbrook has not been awful for Houston, but giving up two first round picks for a player over 30 that has trouble shooting is a nightmare.
With the Rockets not seeing major success with Harden, and with their future basically not existing. It might be time for the organization to pull the trigger in trading the former MVP guard. The only team that could help the Rockets immediately is the Boston Celtics. The Celtics have a bright future, so much so that they could support three teams.
The trade would revolve around Harden and Gordon Hayward. For money purposes, Hayward would have to be moved to match the massive contract of Harden.
Houston Rockets Receive:
Gordon Hayward (34.1 million over one year)
Carson Edwards (1.5 million over three years)
Semi Ojeleye (1.7 million over one year)
2020 First-round pick (#14)
2020 First-round pick (#30)
2021 First-round pick (unprotected)
2023 First-round pick (top 10 protected)
2022 Second-round pick
2024 Second-round pick
Boston Celtics Receive:
James Harden (41.2 for 3 years)
Why this Works for…
Although this might seem like a lot to give up for a player who is in their early 30’s, the Celtics need scoring help. Harden paired up with young talents in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, could be a dynasty. For the Celtics, this trade would hinder the development of Tatum and Brown. Harden will demand a ton of touches. But on the brightside, Harden is a 30-point scorer and can be the leader that the team is lacking drastically. This trade would guarantee a three year period of the Celtics being the best team in the league. Just like the Golden State Warriors were from 2015-2018.
Although the Celtics lose four first round picks and two second round picks, the team will still have the average draft capital of the NBA. They will still have a first-round pick in 2020 (#26), and picks in 2022 and 2024 that will be in the first round. This trade will actually allow the team to stop drafting young players that just sit on the bench. And will focus on the development and minutes of the already young players that they have on the roster. Even if the Harden deal becomes a bust for them, the players in Brown and Tatum will be under the age of 28 when Harden’s deal is over with. Thus still giving the team time to build another championship team during their primes.
For the Rockets, this trade benefits a rebuild. They receive six picks, four of which are first rounders. Although they will not be lottery picks, they still have value in building up a young team. Players such as Nikola Jokic, Jimmy Butler, and Kawhi Leonard were all drafted out of the lottery. The Rockets will also receive young players in Carson Edwards and Semi Ojeleye. Edwards is a pure scorer, and Ojeleye is a defensive juggernaut. Both players could develop into starters or solid role players with a more involved role. Hayward will also be heading to Houston.
Although Celtics fans are split evenly into whether or not they want Hayward on the team or not, there is no denying his overall talent on the court. Even though he has been injury prone since coming to Boston, he has been the most consistent player all around. He is a leader that can help a rebuilding team succeed and become stable during tough times. He is also able to produce and could become the old Hayward of the Utah Jazz with a bigger role. With Westbrook still in Houston, the Rockets could still be playoff contenders. The picks will not change based on their record, so winning or losing will not matter.
This trade has not been rumored, and the idea of Harden being moved is just a rumor. But if both teams want to make a change for the better, this trade works. For both teams, they could see drastic changes and brighter futures.
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