The Boston Celtics elected not to join the James Harden sweepstakes. After the superstar was dealt to the Celtics’ Eastern Conference rival, the Brooklyn Nets, on Wednesday, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge explained why he opted not to pursue the 2018 MVP. Sort of.
“It was just something we didn’t want to do,” he said, via Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal. “It wasn’t the time and it wasn’t the (right) price.”
To entice Houston, Ainge would likely have had to include Jaylen Brown in any deal, among other assets. However, the way Brown has played early on in the 2020-21 season may have rendered him as untouchable as Jayson Tatum.
Brown, 24, has been one of the premier two-way players in hoops through 10 games, averaging 26.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Plus, as Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix noted, Boston’s two stars are considerably younger than Brooklyn’s, and Ainge had no interest in shortening his team’s championship window to pursue the 31-year old Harden.
“Under no circumstances if you’re Boston do you make any kind of offer that includes Jaylen Brown. That was really the Celtics’ mindset for the last couple of months. There was no significant interest in a deal that involved Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are simply operating on a completely different timetable than the Brooklyn Nets…
“Everybody wants the Celtics to get to the Finals this year but their window is over the next four or five years whereas the Nets might just be two or three years right now. They were in a much more advanced position to need to roll the dice and make a deal like this.”
The Nets acquired Harden in a four-team mega-trade that depleted the franchise of its first-round draft capital for the next decade, and part ways with talented young players Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.