Celtics

Could the Celtics find a trade with the Houston Rockets?

Could the Celtics find a trade with the Houston Rockets?

The Houston Rockets essentially declared themselves open for trade business earlier this week, but is there any sort of deal to be made with the Boston Celtics?

ESPN reported that Houston general manager Daryl Morey has made his entire roster available in trade talks with hopes of reshaping a Rockets team that hasn’t been able to get over the hump out west.

Despite the minuscule chance that the Rockets would actually move James Harden, the Celtics will call about him, even if just for due diligence. Danny Ainge has a longstanding lust for Chris Paul, but probably not the one who’s set to make more than $1 million for each of his 34 years of age next season (Paul will earn a staggering $38.5 million in 2019-20). 

Players like P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon are intriguing, particularly on manageable money, but unless the Rockets decide to embrace a youth movement, the Celtics don’t have the win-now assets to necessarily find that sort of deal.

Here, however, is one intriguing scenario in which the teams could potentially do business. If Kyrie Irving elects to sign elsewhere this summer, the Celtics might be more willing to embrace their own youth movement. That doesn’t necessarily mean a rebuild, but it’s a longer path to Finals contention if you throw the keys to the car to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

Under that scenario, Al Horford might be more intrigued by win-now possibilities than sticking around to see if Boston’s 2018 playoff core — albeit with a now-healthy Gordon Hayward — could find that old Kyrie-less magic. He might alert Boston that he’d prefer to play for a more surefire contender, but is willing to help the team recoup assets in that process.

Horford could either opt into the $30.1 million final year of his contract and be dealt to Houston in a deal that could bring back, say, Clint Capela and assets. Or Horford could opt out and the teams could try to find a workable sign-and-trade in which Horford still gets longer-term security and a chance to chase a ring.

It’s still a long shot, but remember that Horford was mighty intrigued by the Rockets before he elected to sign with Boston in the summer of 2016. The Rockets brought Harden, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Clyde Drexler to their July sales pitch with Horford and made him strongly consider the team.

“It was a privilege,” Horford said in 2016. “[Olajuwon] and Clyde were there, and my dad went to high school here in Houston, and he was pushing Houston hard. Hakeem, to him, was a big deal, and for me to be able to talk with him and spend some time. At the end of the day, just looking at the future and everything, I felt like here in Boston was going to be a better fit for me in the long run.”

If Irving departs and Horford’s future gets murkier, the Rockets might just be a team that’s worth talking to more.

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Celtics vs. Wizards highlights: Boston rests starters in regular-season finale

Celtics vs. Wizards highlights: Boston rests starters in regular-season finale

FINAL SCORE: Washington Wizards 96, Boston Celtics 90

IN BRIEF: Brad Stevens rested the Celtics' top six players — Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Daniel Theis — as the C's wrapped up the seeding-game portion of their schedule against the Wizards.

That meant a lot of time for the C's bench players against a Wizards squad that had lost each of its seven games in the Orlando bubble and was resting Rui Hachimura.

Javonte Green had a team-high 23 points for the Celtics, who will await the schedule for their first-round playoff matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Thomas Bryant's 26 points and nine rebounds led the Wizards to the win.

BOX SCORE

CELTICS RECORD: 48-24

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Celtics-76ers first-round playoff series. You can also stream all games on the MyTeams App.

HIGHLIGHTS

You know what helps a player's shooting percentage? When the other team leaves him all alone in the corner.

Vincent Poirier throws a block party on Jerian Grant:

Romeo Langford drives to the hoop & takes care of business himself:

Carsen Edwards gets the hoop -- and the harm:

We call this: turning defense into offense.

How about a little Tacko Thursday?

An unfortunate early exit for Romeo:

UP NEXT

The Celtics will open a first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers next week (dates & times to be announced). 

Tacko Fall stuffs Ish Smith, dunks on Wizards in Celtics' bubble finale

Tacko Fall stuffs Ish Smith, dunks on Wizards in Celtics' bubble finale

Tacko Fall finally saw some action in the NBA bubble Thursday -- and not on the golf course.

The Celtics' 7-foot-5 rookie logged eight minutes against the Washington Wizards in Boston's seeding-round finale, his first regular season playing time since Feb. 5.

Fall made his Orlando cameo count, too, racking up four points, four rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in Boston's 96-90 loss.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the Celtics-76ers first-round playoff series. You can also stream all games on the MyTeams App.

The Celtics big man also made a few cameos on the highlight reel. Here's Fall swatting Wizards guard Ish Smith back to his hotel room in the third quarter:

And here's Fall dunking over a pair of helpless Washington defenders:

Fall also picked up a pair of quick fouls, but it was still a successful stint for the fan-favorite rookie, whose appearance Thursday came much to the delight of (virtual) C's fans.

Fall likely won't get much run in the postseason, but perhaps Brad Stevens will deploy his towering center against 7-foot big man Joel Embiid in the Celtics' first-round matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers.