NBA rumors: Add James Harden to list of stars Celtics ‘almost’ traded for

Boston Celtics, NBA Trade Rumors

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James Harden joins the Boston Celtics’ ever-expanding list of “the ones that got away.”

No disrespect to general manager Danny Ainge, but someone’s got to tell him to stop leaking these things to the press. It’s just not a good look at this point.

According to the latest NBA rumors from The Athletic‘s Sam Amick, the Boston Celtics can now add James Harden to the list of star players Ainge has “almost” traded for over the last few years.

Before Harden was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, Amick says the Celtics’ “level of interest and involvement” in him “far surpassed” what Ainge was willing to admit publicly after the fact. The report also adds that the deal would likely have required Boston to send Jaylen Brown to the Houston Rockets.

The Celtics were in the running for James Harden, apparently

Look, no one here is calling Amick out or saying this is a false report. Boston very well could have been quite involved in the Harden trade talks, because he’s a perennial MVP candidate and the type of player that can take a good core and push them over the top into the contender category. Maybe Ainge really did take a serious look at a deal.

But from the looks of it, the minute the Rockets asked for one of Boston’s two cornerstones in Brown or Jayson Tatum, Ainge balked and hung up the phone. It’s his right to do so; Brown and Tatum are both tremendously talented, young, two-way wings with lots of upside. Harden is the best player of the three, obviously, but he’s much older at 31, and trading for him would have gutted into the Celtics’ rotation.

However, as much as it’s understandable why Ainge would make such a decision, this is also James-Freaking-Harden we’re talking about here, and you don’t get a consolation prize every time you get “close” to working out a game-changing trade only to walk away at the last second. We’ve seen it time and time again; the name of pretty much every star that’s been traded over the last few years has later surfaced in a report just like this about how Ainge was *this* close to pulling off a blockbuster move. There’s only one person/team a report like this benefits, so it’s pretty obvious where this kind of information is being leaked from.

The Celtics aren’t in bad shape by any means, as they’ve reached the conference finals in three of the last four years. But with the team currently sitting at 19-17, Ainge admitting they’re not good enough to win a title and now this, it feels like he’s once again just feeding the masses of Massachusetts what he thinks they want to hear.

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