James Harden's reported trade destinations are all Celtics rivals

/ by Darren Hartwell
Presented By TD Bank

If James Harden gets his way, the Boston Celtics will have to deal with the All-Star guard one way or another this season.

The Houston Rockets guard has added the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to his list of preferred trade destinations that already includes the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Thursday.

That quartet of Milwaukee, Miami, Philly and Brooklyn represents Boston's stiffest competition in the Eastern Conference this season, and Harden could make any of these teams the favorite to come out of the East.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Who is the most important Celtic beyond Jaylen and Jayson? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Houston is still playing hardball with Harden: The Rockets "don't have an urgency" to trade Harden before the season begins and are seeking a "mammoth" trade package in return, per Charania. (For example: Houston reportedly would want Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant in a trade with Brooklyn.)

The NBA's reigning scoring champion isn't in a good place with the Rockets, though: He's currently in the NBA's coronavirus testing protocol after celebrating rapper Lil Baby's 26th birthday party in Atlanta and Las Vegas and has been "non-communicative" at times with the team's front office.

Harden reportedly wants out of Houston after eight seasons and is set on competing for a championship on an East contender. If such a trade materializes before the season starts, that's another roadblock for the Celtics, who have reached the East finals in three of the last four seasons and are itching to take the extra step to the NBA Finals.