By Alex Kurpeski
The NBA is back and more importantly, 3CoSports is back to cover the NBA in 2021! While we’ve been grinding hard to produce the best fantasy football content possible for you guys, we’ve decided to take another step forward by foraying into basketball content once more.
Of course, no website dedicated to writing about the NBA could thrive with any credibility if it ignored the ongoing James Harden saga. Harden and the Rockets will be taking on the Nuggets tonight, following Harden’s impressive 44/17/4 line in Saturday’s loss to Portland. Under heavy scrutiny since this summer, Harden and his blunt trade demands will likely be the center of the circus that is the NBA media until a deal is inevitably struck between Houston and one of the many suitors lined up to take the 31-year-old superstar off their hands. Though Houston has forever catered to Harden’s preferred playstyle since his arrival, the master of the stepback trey has made it clear that he would like to play elsewhere soon. Harden’s demands have activated General Manager Mode in this writer’s mind, and so we will be exploring Harden’s fit with the five teams that have made Harden’s list of preferred destinations in this article. We’ll begin this series by talking about my hometown team: The Boston Celtics.
As a Celtics fan, this proposal is intriguing. While many of my peers despise Harden’s flopping and his reliance on taking a high volume of shots, I am a huge fan of his game and I see him as the embodiment of offensive basketball in the modern NBA. That being said, I don’t know if I want him on my team. The Celtics have a good thing going, with a versatile pair of All-Star wings (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) and a very good supporting cast around them. This is a very young team that is still two or three years away from reaching its peak potential. While Harden would put the Celts in win-now mode, acquiring him would likely cost the team Brown and sixth man Marcus Smart at minimum.
While adding a player of Harden’s caliber would elevate the offense, losing the two best defenders on the team sounds like a massive blunder on the C’s part. Sure the potential of pairing Tatum and Harden is tantalizing, as very few teams can throw a pair of scorers who are both capable of averaging 25+ points-per-game at you. Combine those guys with a healthy Kemba Walker and you’ve got one of the most potent offensive lineups imaginable. On the defensive end, things could get much muddier, especially if Harden does not buy into the philosophy of Brad Stevens. Walker is already a liability on this end of the court, so Boston could have the worst defensive backcourt in the league if Harden’s current level of defense remains the same.
The best case for Harden and the Celtics would be a deal that sees Walker, a handful of draft picks, and some young players (Robert Williams and Romeo Langford probably) head to Houston in exchange for the bearded one. In this case, Boston could trot out Harden at the point, with Smart, Brown, Tatum, and Daniel Theis/Tristan Thompson sharing the court with him during crunch time. On paper, this sounds like a championship team, though Houston may be selling themselves short in this scenario. Boston definitely has the assets to get this deal done, but as we know Danny Ainge only makes deals when they’re skewed in his favor.
I think one way or another this deal is far from mutually beneficial for Harden, the Celtics, and the Rockets.
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