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James Harden trade rumors: Rockets star adds Bucks, Heat to preferred teams list

As James Harden trade rumors continue to swirl, the Houston Rockets star has reportedly added the Bucks and Heat to his list of preferred destinations.

Jan 9, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball as Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It seems inevitable the Houston Rockets will pull off a blockbuster James Harden trade, and the superstar is reportedly expanding his list of preferred destinations.

In addition to the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, Harden has reportedly added a couple championship contenders to his list of potential landing spots.

James Harden trade rumors: ‘The Beard’ would accept move to Bucks or Heat

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Thursday that Harden, who’s distanced himself from the Rockets, is interested in a possible move to either Milwaukee or Miami.

Wow, right? Harden seems increasingly determined to bolt his way out of Houston and to a new franchise. Alas, no matter where he lands, whichever team acquires him is going to have to give up a considerable number of players or even a superstar to land him.

Any scenario with the Bucks or Heat is particularly wild. Milwaukee already has back-to-back league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to build around, along with All-Star Khris Middleton and newly acquired guard Jrue Holiday. At least one of those latter two players would probably have to go to the Rockets should Harden want to join forces with the Greek Freak, who’d be under even greater pressure during a contract year to make an arranged marriage with Harden fit on the fly.

As for the Heat, they’re among the few teams who’d have enough young assets to offer an appealing trade package to Houston. However, Miami shouldn’t just give up bright young stars like Tyler Herro or Bam Adebayo without a second thought. This team just went to the NBA Finals and has an excellent, team-first culture build around one veteran star in Jimmy Butler. Adding an empowered player like Harden to the mix could throw everything off.

Related: 5 most realistic James Harden trade scenarios

James Harden stats, most logical trade destination

James Harden trade rumors: 76ers most logical destination?
Oct 18, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

While it’s fun to think about a James Harden trade to the Bucks or Heat in theory, those squads are better off standing pat and probably don’t want the headache Harden would bring to the organization as of today. That’s in spite of the incredible numbers Harden has put up in recent years, including last season, when he led the NBA in scoring at 34.3 points per game to go with averages of 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.8 steals.

With a demonstrably improved effort on defense, Harden is unlocking new levels of his game. Alas, he’s gotten accustomed to an exorbitant usage rate and frequently does most of his damage as an isolation scorer. He must go to a team that doesn’t already have a ball-dominant player who drives the offense — or he has to replace said player via a trade.

The Nets have been named as a desired spot for Harden. Talk about a nightmarish situation for first-year coach Steve Nash to deal with. If Brooklyn somehow held onto Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Harden, there would be next to no room to fill out the rest of the roster. Plus, those are three of the most mercurial personalities in the entire NBA on one squad. Sounds like a hard pass.

Among the suitors Charania named in his report, Philadelphia seems like the best fit. The 76ers’ dynamic duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid hasn’t produced a championship, much less a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Either one of them is an appealing trade chip in a deal for Harden. Plus, new general manager Daryl Morey occupied the same post in Houston, and was the man who swung the trade for Harden from Oklahoma City in the first place.

The Morey-Harden familiarity factor looms large and is an edge the Sixers have over any other teams interested in Harden. That easily makes the most sense on paper, but who knows? Buckle up, because this could be a wild ride as the Rockets try to sift through the chaos and find the best offer to ship Harden away.