Should the Celtics try their luck pursuing a trade for James Harden this offseason?
Needless to say, the Houston Rockets are in a downhill spiral with no immediate sign of staying afloat. After former Celtics great Kevin McHale was fired just 11 games into the season this past year, a team that many expected to contend in the Western Conference barely squeaked into the Playoffs with an 8 seed, only to be dominated in the first round by Golden State.
It's no secret, team chemistry on that Houston squad is just rough right now, to put it lightly. Tension between Dwight Howard and star guard James Harden strained chemistry, and ultimately resulted in a locker room breakdown. After Game 5 of the near-sweep, Howard had no words for reporters when asked about his relationship with teammates and his future plans. It was evident Howard wanted to get out of Los Angeles three years ago, but he seems to be in just as much a hurry to leave Houston this offseason.
Following the series, Rockets guard and former Celtic Jason Terry called out James Harden on his inability to lead the team to the level they need to be, as told in an article by ESPN's Calvin Watkins.
A lesson for [Harden] as a star of a team, you have to deal with certain issues and still be able to be mentally tough to bring your level of play up with your team and get them to where you want them to go.
Recently, rumors spread of James Harden being disgruntled with the situation in Houston, purposely missing team busses for away games and distancing himself from teammates. For a star player and face of the franchise like "the Beard," this is a nightmare scenario, and immediate change is absolutely necessary before the team implosion costs the team further.
So where do the Rockets go from here?
ESPN's Marc Stein believes a roster transformation may be necessary to fix the situation in Houston, and Harden may be a part of it.
This is where Boston steps in.Roster changes and a coaching change loom in Houston, but the Rockets need a culture change too. Harden's too good not to set a better tone— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 28, 2016
Harden could definitely use a change of scenery, and the Celtics have the pieces and personnel to make it happen and happen successfully.
In fact, CBSSports.com's Matt Moore tweeted his theoretical ESPN Trade Machine scenario that would allow Harden to end up in Green.
Now before you come after me with torches and pitch forks, I most certainly wouldn't give up this much for Harden, considering this trade would essentially take out the core of the C's and a lot of what they've worked to develop in the last few years. I wouldn't give up all three of Bradley, Crowder, and Smart, but possibly two of the three. Bradley, Smart, the Brooklyn pick, and a future first? I'd definitely think about pulling the trigger on that trade.Fine. My mentions are always a hazmat zone anyway.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 28, 2016
And the Nets pick
I know there are certainly negative aspects of Harden's game. He's notorious for his bad defense and poor shot selection at times. After this past season, it's apparent his attitude and leadership may be in question, as well. For the amount of talent on the Houston roster and lack of desired success this season, Harden has become the scapegoat to throw a lot of the blame on. Because of this, many may be quick to shy away from bringing the Arizona State product to Beantown with worries of ruining team chemistry.
That being said, Harden finished second in MVP voting last season with half a lick of leadership under McHale. He has been without a doubt one of the most dominant scorers in the game, averaging 29 PPG on 44% shooting, along with 7.5 APG, 6.1 RPG, and a 25.36 PER this past year. His scoring ability is on par with anyone else in the NBA, and under a hard-nosed coach and leader like Brad Stevens, he could learn to become the team leader he has the potential to be.
On a team standpoint, the one-two scoring punch of Isaiah Thomas and James Harden game after game could be some of the most entertaining basketball Boston has seen in years. Beyond this, the Celtics would have the cap room to sign yet another max-level free agent, or even two if the C's can match salaries in the Harden trade as close as possible. Could you imagine a reunion of Harden and Durant in Boston, along with another big-name product like Al Horford? If that doesn't excite you, I'm not sure what else will.
It's a long-shot by all means, but if there's ever a time to make the trade happen, it's now.
How would you feel about bringing "the Beard" to Boston?
James Harden photo edit: @Splashgfx on Instagram
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