In the latest edition of where will James Harden go before the 2020-21 NBA regular season begins, ESPN reported on Thursday that the Houston Rockets have expanded their search in finding a trade partner for the All-star guard. Wojnarowski added that several playoff suitors from both the Eastern and Western conferences are interested in acquiring Harden’s services.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Thursday that Philadelphia made All-star point guard Ben Simmons in available in some trade packages for Harden. But soon after that report came out, Sixers president Daryl Morey refuted it and made it clear the organization isn’t moving Simmons.
With all these rumors swirling every day about Harden’s next destination, we decided to take a look at the four best spots for him. Any team that wants to acquire Harden will have to match his $40 million contract this season, and $43.8 million deal next season, and also be comfortable moving high-caliber assets in a potential deal.
1. Brooklyn Nets
Just thinking about Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant all sharing the floor together is a scary thought, both good and bad. The good part is Brooklyn would have an abundance of scoring on the floor, which would make them tough to defend. And let’s not forget the Nets have the assets to make a possible deal with Houston. However, the bad part is the amount of iso-ball we would see throughout a game.
2. Miami Heat
The second spot would have went to the Sixers, but with Philly saying they aren’t moving Simmons, it makes it hard to envision a deal happening. Therefore, the Heat and Harden could be a match-made in heaven. Harden would be joining a Miami team that went to the NBA Finals and has head coach Erik Spoelstra, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo. But the bigger question at hand is would the Heat give up either Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, or Tyler Herro in a deal? It’s tough to say because all three are essential to Miami’s culture. However, Harden paired with Butler and Adebayo possibly makes Miami a top-three team in the East.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Harden would be entering a situation in Philly, where he would have a dominant center in Joel Embiid, who can average 20 points and 10 rebounds with ease, and has the ball in his hands often. The latter would only be feasible if the Sixers ended up moving Simmons and other assets to Houston.
If that were the case, Harden would have Tobias Harris, Danny Green, and Seth Curry likely flanking him on the perimeter. And if a team dare tried to collapse the lane on Harden, he could easily kick it out to one of those players.
This would be a major power move for the Nuggets, who pushed the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals to six games last season. They already have two outstanding young star players in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, plus a good amount of contracts and young players to possibly send to Houston.
Could you imagine a Harden-Murray backcourt in the Mile High City? That’s a lot of scoring, and then with Jokic directing traffic with his passing abilities? It’s a tantalizing idea. Denver could get this deal done by moving both Will Barton and Gary Harris Jr. for starters.
Harris makes $19.1 million this season and has two years left on his deal. Meanwhile, Barton makes $13.7 million this season and also has two years left on his deal. Then, the Nuggets could include Michael Porter Jr., Bol Bol, or R.J. Hampton. But at the same time, it’s hard to see Porter Jr. on the move, especially after his performance in the bubble last season.