3. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have been as close to the finals as any team in recent seasons without ever feeling like a serious contender. The franchise has quietly made it to three Eastern Conference Finals over the past four seasons.
The addition of James Harden could be exactly the move that pushes them over the top and back to the place that the franchise called home for the first thirty years of their existence. The truth of the matter is that the Celtics have the assets to make a move for Harden.
It would stand to reason that Jayson Tatum is off the table but everyone else on their roster should be available for selection by the Rockets front office. A trade would probably start with Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece and from there the Rockets could pick and choose from the Celtic’s roster like a lottery winner on a shopping spree.
Brown is not a superstar but he is an All-Star caliber player that is young and cost-controlled. The Rockets, with a backcourt of Brown and Wall, would remain a playoff contender and will have the financial flexibility to improve the roster in coming seasons.
The players down the roster that the Rockets would be attracted to are Marcus Smart, Daniel Theis, and Semi Ojeleye. All three of these players are on reasonable contracts and project as quality depth options.
The Celtics would likely prefer to include Kemba Walker in a deal for Harden but his value is much lower than Brown’s and it would mean that the Celtics would have to surrender far more periphery talent or take on Eric Gordon’s contract.
This is an option that hasn’t been brought up much, but would the Rockets be willing to take a lighter return for Harden if someone is willing to take on the remaining four-years and $72 million on Gordon’s contract? If serious offers don’t arise for Harden then this could be a route the Rockets look to take.
Next: Team number 2