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5 potential James Harden trade destinations, including the New York Knicks

The James Harden trade speculation should get white hot in the coming days following his shocking decision to opt into the final year of his Philadelphia 76ers contract to seek out a trade, and there should be no lack of potential landing spots for the future Hall-of-Famer.

The 2023 NBA offseason had its first major story Thursday when James Harden, the player considered to be the best athlete that could be available in free agency, decided to forego testing his value to instead look for a trade with his current team, the 76ers. It was a stunning development that created a major shift in this year’s NBA free agent market.

Related: NBA trade rumors – Latest buzz on James Harden, Damian Lillard and more

However, how that changes free agency is a story for another day and many NBA fans are more interested in who will be the other team(s) involved in a possible James Harden trade. While most organizations in the league will consider a trade for the 10-time All-Star, he will have a say in his next home and that means only serious playoff teams need to apply.

With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the five most logical James Harden trade contenders based on rumors and on which teams have the need and assets to get a deal done.

New York Knicks

james harden trade
Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Minutes after the trade, the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks were installed as early contenders in a James Harden trade. However, soon after, a new report suggested not everyone in the Knicks organization is up for such a trade. That is understandable since the 33-year-old does not fit the mold of the superstar the Knicks have long been looking for.

However, if New York is not forced into an extension in a trade, getting off of RJ Barrett or Julius Randle’s contract in a potential trade that only sees Harden on the books for one season could be a worthwhile risk to land a legit elite player and get long-term flexibility.

Los Angeles Clippers

Since the news broke, various outlets have reported that the Clippers are a favorite in the James Harden trade chase, and that makes sense. They are in a difficult spot where they have a couple of star players who have long injury histories.

In a way, a deal that swapped players like Harden and, for example, Paul George might be a way for both organizations to swap problems and start fresh with different stars and rotations.

Memphis Grizzlies

james harden trade
Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Grizzlies are in need of another star to pair with Ja Morant. The organization was rumored to be in the hunt for OG Anunoby last season but was rebuffed by the Toronto Raptors. Maybe a move for a star that could come at a cheaper trade price will be the way the team goes this summer.

Furthermore, with Morant being suspended for the first 25 games of the season, they could certainly use the offensive punch James Harden can deliver and avoid needing to dig themselves out of an NBA standings hole when their young superstar returns.

  • James Harden stats (’22-’23): 21.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 10.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 39% 3PT

Miami Heat

Another team that has already been linked to a James Harden trade is the Miami Heat. While they would certainly prefer a younger star to go along with Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, he does fills the needs they have as an elite scorer and ball handler. Plus he might come at a lower price than someone like Damian Lillard.

While Harden doesn’t seem like a typical Heat player, this team is in title-hunting mode and they need better weapons if they hope to capitalize on their contender window.

Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are in the midst of a major shift and every player except Trae Young is rumored to be on the trade block. If the team is looking to make a big splash with a big change, Harden would certainly fit the bill. It’s hard to know if a Young and Harden combo would work but there is certainly a serious upside. Plus, after the combo of Young and Dejounte Murray disappointed last season, they clearly need a different star to play alongside the face of their franchise.

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