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Celtics Trade Rumors: James Harden Interest 'Far Surpassed' Public Comments

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Brooklyn Nets James Harden guard James Harden plays during the first half of basketball's NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta, Sunday, March 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics fell short of landing James Harden in a trade earlier this season, but it reportedly wasn't without trying from general manager Danny Ainge.

According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, "Sources say Boston's level of interest and involvement far surpassed what Ainge was willing to admit to when he addressed it publicly."

Harden was eventually traded from the Houston Rockets to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team deal in January, while Ainge downplayed the team's participation on trade discussions.

"We had numerous talks, but the price really wasn't changing. The price was really high for us. It was just something we didn't want to do," Ainge said (h/t Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports). "Even the people within our organization that respected him and wanted him more—I think unanimously we decided it wasn't the time for us and it wasn't the price."

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated also reported the Celtics didn't want any deal that included Jaylen Brown.

Boston likely doesn't regret holding on to Brown as the guard continues to improve, earning his first All-Star selection this season with averages of 24.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

The Celtics still haven't reached expectations this year, sitting under .500 until a four-game winning streak got them to 19-17 at the All-Star break. If Boston could have figured out a deal, Harden would have certainly made a positive impact after winning the last three scoring titles entering this year. 

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Despite question marks about sharing the ball with other scorers, the nine-time All-Star has settled into his role with the Nets while averaging an efficient 25.5 points per game in 23 appearances. His 49.7 field-goal percentage and 42.2 three-point percentage would both be career highs over a full season.

Brooklyn is also now 4.5 games ahead of the Celtics in the standings.

Amick's report indicates Boston knew what Harden could bring and tried to swing a deal but simply fell short.

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