The Boston Celtics had several discussions with the Rockets about acquiring James Harden. But according to C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, Houston's price tag was too high.
What was that price tag, you ask? Brian Robb of the Boston Sports Journal has the scoop.
"One league source told BostonSportsJournal.com that the haul the Rockets demanded from the Celtics for Harden included Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and multiple first round picks," Robb wrote.
Initial reports suggested Houston sought a young franchise cornerstone as part of a deal for Harden, a three-time NBA scoring champion and arguably the best pure scorer in the game. Brown certainly fits that mold: The 24-year-old is averaging 26.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and could have multiple All-NBA selections in his future.
According to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, though, Brown was a deal-breaker for the Celtics.
"Under no circumstances if you're Boston do you make any kind of offer that includes Jaylen Brown," Mannix said Wednesday on NBC Sports Boston's Early Edition. "That was really the Celtics' mindset for the last couple of months. There was no significant interest in a deal that involved Jaylen Brown."
That decision is understandable. Harden is a once-in-a-generation talent, but he's 31 years old and comes with a few red flags after forcing his way out of Houston. While Harden could have made Boston a short-term title contender, the team's young core of Jayson Tatum, Brown and Smart should keep the Celtics relevant for years to come.
As for the Brooklyn Nets, who reunited Harden with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and All-Star guard Kyrie Irving? They mortgaged their future by parting with a wealth of first-round picks but are well-positioned for a championship run in the present.