While a James Harden trade from the Houston Rockets is not inevitable at this point, the three-time reigning NBA scoring champion has added the Portland Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations.
Said list initially included only the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. Since then, Harden has expanded said list to include the Bucks, Heat, Celtics and Blazers. Whether this expedites a trade of the unhappy guard remains to be seen. What we do know is that the Portland Trail Blazers are now an unlikely destination in a James Harden trade.
Blazers deem C.J. McCollum untouchable in James Harden trade talks
“It’s why Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, has so staunchly rejected the idea of trading McCollum,” Jason Quick of The Athletic reported. “Years ago, when asked about breaking up the backcourt, Olshey broke from his strict policy of not addressing player contracts or status. He countered with his own question: Why would he break up one of the best backcourts in the NBA?”
Embattled in his own right , Olshey’s stance is rather interesting in that his Blazers have failed to live up to expectations with their current star-studded backcourt. Last season’s first-round playoff exit is the most-recent example of this. A James Harden trade would ultimately pair the former NBA MVP up with Damian Lillard. That would make the Blazers a legit NBA title contender. Alas, it’s not to be.
In the midst of his eighth NBA season — all with the Blazers — the 29-year-old McCollum is averaging 29.0 points and 7.3 assists on 43% shooting from three-point range in three games this season. He went tit-for-tat with Harden this past weekend, scoring 44 points in a narrow win over the Rockets.
With that said, McCollum can’t even be compared to Harden in terms of all-around production. We’re talking about one of the most-dynamic scorers in NBA history, one that has averaged 35.3 points since the start of the 2018-19 season.
Related: James Harden trade scenarios
Where are we in terms of a James Harden trade?
- Recent reports suggest that things have become toxic between the star guard and his organization after Harden requested a trade. That was taken to a whole new level after he violated the NBA COVID-19 protocols last week, resulting in a $50,000 fine.
- However, it’s looking more and more like a James Harden trade is not going to happen any time soon. While the Nets have reengaged with Houston, nothing seems to be close on that front. Meanwhile, Philadelphia 76ers front office head Daryl Morey has pushed back against reports that Ben Simmons could be had.
- In South Beach, the Miami Heat just recently pulled out of James Harden trade talks. It’s not yet known whether the venerable Pat Riley will ultimately engage in talks moving forward. What we do know is that the Heat are a legit NBA title contender in their current iteration after earning a surprise trip to the NBA Finals last season.
- The Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, and to a lesser extent, Boston Celtics could potentially still be in on a James Harden trade. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets pushed back against the idea of dealing star young forward Michael Porter Jr. in any trade.
The NBA trade deadline is March 25 this season. There’s a still chance that a James Harden trade could come to fruition before then. But at this point, it seems teams are reluctant to give up star power for the future Hall of Famer. These Blazers are just the latest example. Whether that makes sense is up for interpretation.