The Celtics apparently had a non-starter when it came to past James Harden trade negotiations with the Rockets.
Harden was on the trading block for some time before Houston ultimately moved him to the Brooklyn Nets. Boston frequently was attached to Harden trade rumors, as it was known the superstar guard had a big fan in Danny Ainge.
Ainge, who retired from his role as Celtics president of basketball operations back in June, apparently spoke with Kendrick Perkins while the Harden saga was at its peak. While the former Boston big man would have moved Jaylen Brown in order to acquire the 2018 NBA MVP, Ainge reportedly was strongly opposed to the idea.
“I remember last year around this time when teams were calling about James Harden and Houston actually wanted Jaylen Brown,” Perkins said Friday on “Celtics Pregame Live,” as transcribed by NBC Sports Boston. “I was on the phone with Danny Ainge for an hour, and I remember how our conversation went. He was like, ‘Hey, Perk, would you trade Jaylen Brown for James Harden?’ And I was like, ‘Danny, you know how I feel about Jaylen Brown, but I would trade him for James Harden.’ He was like, ‘ Are you kidding me? He’s not going anywhere. He’s not even 25 and he keeps getting better.’
“And then all of a sudden, Danny didn’t make the trade, (Jaylen) made the All-Star team, had a breakout year, and now he just keeps getting better. Jaylen Brown is a true professional, he works hard, and people say he’s under-appreciated, but I would say people appreciate him now.”
Harden is one of the best offensive forces in league history. But the Celtics have one of the brightest young cores in the league with Brown and Jayson Tatum, so it’s not difficult to grasp why Ainge wasn’t interested in splitting them up.