The James Harden trade rumors will persist as long as the Rockets star is in Houston. And at the moment, those rumors still include the Boston Celtics.
The Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets remain the most likely destinations for Harden, according to The New York Times' Marc Stein. But Stein also added this in his newsletter Tuesday:
"In recent days, it has become known that Toronto, Boston and Denver have also had exploratory talks with Houston."
The Boston Herald's Steve Bulpett reported last month that the Celtics did research on Harden to determine if a trade was worth pursuing and at the time didn't proceed any further.
But Harden's situation with the Rockets appears to be getting worse by the day, and Boston seemingly hasn't ruled out the possibility of a blockbuster trade.
One explanation for why the Celtics reportedly are in the Harden mix: They're one of the few teams with the assets to meet Houston's trade demands. As Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix laid out Tuesday, a Boston offer of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Romeo Langford, one other role player and draft picks likely would be enough to land Harden and may top all other offers save for a Harden-Ben Simmons swap with Philadelphia.
But would such a deal make sense for the Celtics?
While Harden's talent is undeniable -- he's led the NBA in scoring in three straight seasons and has made eight consecutive All-Star games -- he turned 31 in August and has logged at least 35 minutes per game in each of his eight seasons in Houston.
He'd also threaten to disrupt Boston's chemistry by wresting control of the team from young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and may be a better fit for a club like the Sixers, who boast an elite big man in Joel Embiid and floor-spacing shooters in Seth Curry and Danny Green.
So, a Harden trade to the Celtics seems unlikely at this point. But it remains a possibility.