Report: Rockets nearing Harden trade with two of Celtics' top rivals


James Harden, coming to an Eastern Conference court near you?

The Houston Rockets are "sifting through offers" for Harden and could trade the superstar guard very soon, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Wednesday.

The Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have "expressed interest" in trading for Harden "at various points," per Charania, but it appears the Harden sweepstakes is down to two teams: The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.

Would this hypothetical Harden trade be worth it for Celtics?

The Nets, Charania writes, have prepared a massive trade package that includes four future first-round picks and three future pick swaps. Such a deal might give Brooklyn fans flashbacks of Danny Ainge's 2013 fleecing of Billy King, but it would also form a three-headed monster of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (assuming he returns to the team).

But the Sixers may have the trump card in Ben Simmons, whom the Raptors reportedly covet in return for Harden. Houston also is interested in young Philly guard Matisse Thybulle, according to Charania, while The New York Times' Marc Stein reports the Rockets are eyeing rookie Tyrese Maxey in addition to Simmons.

The Nets or Sixers landing Harden could shift the balance of power in the Eastern Conference, where the Celtics currently sit in first place at 7-3. The three-time scoring champion could put Brooklyn or Philly over the top as the new top team in the East -- or undermine either club after essentially forcing his way out of Houston.


The Celtics play the Sixers next Wednesday, Jan. 20, and again on Friday the 22nd. So depending on how soon a deal gets done, the C's could be one of the first teams to see Harden on a new squad.

UPDATE (2:40 p.m. ET): A trade involving Harden could happen as soon as Wednesday, per Stein.