NBA Writer Details ‘Massive Complication’ In Potential Celtics Trade For James Harden

This surprising development might halt any trade talks


January 7, 2021

Could it be Jaylen Brown’s blistering start to the 2020-21 NBA season that will prevent a trade that would shake up the basketball world?

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps names the Boston Celtics forward’s stellar start as a “massive complication” to a potential trade for Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. Brown has been one of the NBA’s most efficient scorers this season, and his defensive prowess and chemistry with teammate Jayson Tatum convince Bontemps the Celtics should attempt to contend for Eastern Conference supremacy by tweaking their roster, rather than making this potential blockbuster trade: Brown, Kemba Walker, Aaron Nesmith, Boston’s 2021 and 2023 unprotected first-round picks in exchange for Harden, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.”

“… Boston could put together a package leading with Brown, who is off to the best start of his career,” Bontemps wrote. “He fits the profile of a young building-block-type star that the Rockets have required in any Harden trade. Expanding the return beyond Harden to include Tucker and Gordon would give the Celtics the depth they’ve been lacking in the early part of the season.

“Brown is just 24 years old, though, a two-way player and well on his way to being an All-Star for the first time. He has steadily grown his game over four-plus seasons in Boston and has taken on a larger offensive role in a big way this season. The pairing of Brown and Tatum can rival any wing duo ? and perhaps any under-25 tandem in the entire league. And while the Celtics are not yet up to the same caliber of conference finals rosters they’ve enjoyed in recent years, their biggest weakness at this point — depth — is something that could be addressed without making such an earthshaking trade.”

The Celtics reportedly are among the teams that made a “courtesy call” to the Rockets about a potential trade for Harden.

Although the details of the aforementioned proposal are hypothetical, the (pleasantly surprising) issue of Brown’s play isn’t. Having “accepted the challenge” of shouldering a bigger role on offense, his stock clearly is up at this early stage of the season.

With Walker yet to return from an offseason knee procedure and Nesmith still finding his feet in the NBA, there’s no way for the Celtics, as currently constructed, to determine exactly where their ceiling is.

That probably will fans more than any hypothetical trade for a perennial NBA All-Star like Harden.

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