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What if James Harden had been traded to Boston in the Perkins deal?

May 14, 2011, 2:00 PM EDT

James Harden

When the Kendrick Perkins trade went through, there was a considerable amount of flabbergasting about what it was Boston saw in Jeff Green. That’s only intensified since, especially with the Celtics eliminated in the second round and Green coughing up a pair of killer turnovers down the stretch in Game 5. The Celtics have consistently maintained that Green was the guy they want, and they even plan on giving him a qualifying offer to keep him around. Danny Ainge thinks Green is a big part of the Celtics’ future.

But an interesting element came out of ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ podcast with Boston radio broadcaster Sean Grande this week. As SBNation’s Mike Prada noted: The Celtics began talks with the Thunder not for Jeff Green, but for James Harden. You know, the James Harden that has been en fuego since the trade deadline and has become a legitimate third playmaker for the Thunder and a nightmare for opponents? That James Harden?

Getting past how incredible it is that Presti continues to make the right move no matter what the evidence tells him to (and the evidence would have told him Harden was an acceptable price for Perkins prior to the trade deadline), we’ve got an interesting What If question here. How would Harden have impacted the Celtics?

Well, for one, it would have given them another distributor and playmaker who could drive, lessening the impact of Rajon Rondo‘s injury. It would have provided a younger defender to sick on Dwyane Wade who did the most damage. And it would have given them a versatile building block who could have really learned behind Ray Allen and Paul Pierce while being the young cornerstone they need without the inconsistencies and dreaded “tweener” label Jeff Green comes with. In short, it would have been better all around. It may not have made the difference in a Celtics win or loss against the Heat, but you have to think Harden would have given them more than Green, who didn’t seem to adjust to life in the Celtics’ locker room after years in the warm bosom of the OKC locker room.

Green would still be with the Thunder, likely being criticized as fans called for Ibaka to get more playing time (one of the best results of the trade for Perkins, along with moving Ibaka to PF next to Perk), knocking down the occasional three and getting bowled over by Zach Randolph. For Celtics fans, this all comes as another twist in a series of knife twists that have spelled what appears to be their doom, even with Doc coming back. The confidence in Ainge is unlikely to be boosted by the idea that it could have been Harden, showcasing his talents against Memphis currently, rather than Green, who the Celtics would have gotten for the franchise center.

We might as well call Presti “Boris the Bullet Dodger.” Because he dodges bullets, Avi.

  1. bloggingainteazzy - May 14, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    You really took time to write this? I can’t believe I took time to read it!

  2. Gordon - May 14, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    If I were an OKC fan, I would be psyched to have this team. They are really exciting to watch, plus they’re young & will only get better with experience.

  3. goforthanddie - May 14, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I’d hardly call Perkins “the franchise center.”

    • jamie54 - May 14, 2011 at 7:04 PM

      Agreed. He’s slow footed and overpaid.

  4. andyhr17 - May 14, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    ….and still one of the best defensive centers in the league.

    • andrejohnsonforpresident - May 14, 2011 at 7:58 PM

      I agree, I would say he’s overpaid but his defensive presence is a factor a long with his intensity. He brings several factors to the team and is a good presence in the middle. An with offensive power houses like kd, westbrook, and the emerging James Harden, Kp does not need to be great at offense.

  5. andrejohnsonforpresident - May 14, 2011 at 8:07 PM

    I like how James Harden has shown up. This guy can really play too, i’ve seen him step up and his hustle gives OKC another gear imo. An I think its safe to say the celtics might have had a shot at beating the heat also if they had acquired James Harden and started him. Likewise the grizz would probably be playing the mavs right now if OKC kept jeff green. Its gonna be interesting to see this team in a few years with some more experience under their belt. I hope they stay humble and stick together for their careers too.

  6. durant4mvp - May 14, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    The Snatch reference excited me almost as much as James Harden getting some face time and recognition.

  7. rickmirer - May 15, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    Harden confuses me. Very streaky. He also needs an Afro to go along with that beard. Come on harden, complete the package!

  8. thetooloftools - May 15, 2011 at 2:27 AM

    I’m LeBron James.
    I didn’t say anything stupid today but I’m posting to keep my name out there.

  9. 00maltliquor - May 15, 2011 at 2:48 AM

    What if the Thunder would’ve traded James Harden? How about what if the Thunder would’ve drafted Tyreke Evans instead of James Harden?! That would’ve been monsterous.

  10. tominma - May 15, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Dont underestimate Perk. If he doesnt get hurt last year, the Celts beat the Lakers in game 7. If they had him the 2nd half of this year, they just might still be playing! I wish they hadnt made the trade!

  11. supermattbjorke - May 15, 2011 at 7:25 PM

    Dude! Bro! What if oj mayo was traded to the pacers? Blah blah blah I can write more interesting stuff then this.

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