ESPN.com’s Kevin Pelton wrote last week that the Rockets’ first priority should be trading James Harden over Dwight Howard as it is time for GMDaryl Moreyto push the reset button in Houston. It would be a bold move by Morey, but the Rockets’ boss has never been afraid to shake things up dramatically.
Morey’skindred spirit in the NBA is his former boss, the Celtics’ Danny Ainge – who is also a “go big or go home” type.
So, could the Celtics and Rockets be concocting a Harden blockbuster? Ainge would be foolish not to place a phone call to Morey. The Celtics have the most chips (outside of the 76ers) to make a major splash in the next few days and the C’s have been mentioned in every trade rumor under the sun. What’s one more?
Why it will happen
-Ainge has liked Harden for a long time. When the C’s made their Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins swap back in 2011, the talks between Boston and the Thunder reportedly began with the Celtics exploring avenues in which they could obtain Harden.
– The Celtics have an expiring contract in David Lee to throw at the Rockets to match money. They also have young players that Moreywould want in a swap (Marcus Smart) and first round draft picks (Brooklyn in 2016, option to swapin 2017 and 2018). If Morey is serious about an overhaul, his first phone call will be to Ainge.
– All that Kardashian drama that Harden brings (he’s dating Khloe)is not new to the Celtics. Kris Humphrieshad a successful one-year run with the Celtics under Brad Stevens two years ago.
Why it won’t happen
– Ainge is extremely close with Kevin McHale and McHaleplaces a good chunk of the blame as to the reason he was fired by the Rockets this season on Harden.
“James Harden had sprained his ankle during the summer and came in overweight and we just weren’t playing very well,” McHale told Inside the NBA about the Rockets’ early season struggles.
It doesn’t sound like No. 32 would give No. 44 a ringing endorsement regarding Harden.
– Morey schemed for years in order to trade for a superstar like Harden and with Harden leading the way, the Rockets made the conference finals in an all-time rugged Western Conference just last season. The easiest path back to title contention is to continue to build around Harden.
– Morey would undoubtedly ask for the moon. The 2016 Nets pickandMarcus Smart (or Isaiah Thomas) would need to be included, along with David Lee’s contract. Adrian Wojnarowskisaid Sunday night that he “can’t image a scenario where the Celtics trade [the 2016 Nets pick].”
– Harden is a massive liability on the defensive end and Ainge and Stevens seem obsessed with strong defensive guard play.