6 most realistic James Harden trade scenarios

By Vincent Frank

Could a James Harden trade from the Houston Rockets be looming? There seems to be some suggestions that this might be the case. That includes Harden himself requesting a trade and doing everything possible to make sure Houston obliges. As for the Rockets, they are expanding trade talks with the 2020-21 NBA season getting going.

Could Houston opt to blow this entire thing up after yet another miserable playoff performance and following the trade of Russell Westbrook? Maybe, Harden simply wants to start anew somewhere else.

If so, here’s a look at six most-realistic James Harden trade scenarios.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Houston Rockets, check out #Rockets rumors, rankings, and news here

James Harden trade to the Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden trade for Ben Simmons?
Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots over Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant (13) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
  • This obviously makes the most sense in that the above-mentioned Daryl Morey just joined the Sixers to help run their front office. He has a great relationship with Harden dating back to their days together with the Rockets.
  • From a logistical perspective, a trade could make sense here. The Sixers are already reportedly interested in trading for Harden. That much has been known since Morey took his current position in the team’s front office. As for a Harden fit in Philadelphia, it’s no secret that the team has struggled from the perimeter. He’d be a perfect fit under new head coach Doc Rivers.
  • Philadelphia would likely have to offer up either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid to make this trade worth the Rockets’ while. Previous reports suggested they were not willing to do that. However, Simmons now might be available in certain packages. While Morey pushed back against that, it could get a James Harden trade done.

Related: Blockbuster NBA trades that could still happen

James Harden trade the Brooklyn Nets

James Harden trade for Caris LeVert?
Nov 10, 2019; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Caris LeVert (22) handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
  • We already know that Nets general manager Sean Marks is looking to add a third star to team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. As crazy as it might sound, Harden could be a tremendous fit under player-first head coach Steve Nash.
  • Hear me out for a second. Nash is already dealing with two big egos. What would adding Harden to the mix change in this regard? The addition of Harden would also enable Irving to be less ball-dominant and Durant to roam around like the sniper he is. With Durant looking 100% as the season gets going, a James Harden trade would make these Nets odds-on NBA title favorites.
  • From a Rockets perspective, they’d want to get a third team involved. Houston has no interest in a package surrounding Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and Jarrett Allen. Rather, the team wants a blue-chip young players and picks. This could make it more difficult for the Nets to acquire Harden.

Related: Top NBA players heading into 2020-21

James Harden trade to the Denver Nuggets

James Harden trade scenarios: Nuggets make sense
Mar 5, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives with the ball as Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jamal Murray’s performance in the 2020 NBA Playoffs etched his name in stone as the Nuggets’ franchise cornerstone. It also led to the rightful belief that this team can contend moving forward. Could new general manager Calvin Booth now look to make that splashy move? I Would not put it past him.
  • Teaming Harden up with Murray and Nikola Jokic would build a big three that very few NBA teams could contend with. The idea would be for Harden to be less ball dominant. Instead, running Denver’s offense through Murray.

Related: Trades that could transform 2020 NBA Draft

  • As for the Rockets, acquiring stud youngster Michael Porter Jr. and multiple first-round picks could help them turn the page and start anew. Porter Jr. was brilliant once the NBA season resumed in Orlando and is seen as a legit All-Star moving forward. Houston would also pick up two solid veterans in Will Barton and Gary Harris to help the contracts match.

James Harden trade to the Golden State Warriors

James Harden trade for Andrew Wiggins?
Mar 10, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins (22) passes the ball against LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr. (31) in the second half at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
  • What we do know is that teaming Harden up with Stephen Curry would make Golden State an instant NBA title contender after its injury-plagued 2019-20 campaign. Add in the recent acquisition of star wing Kelly Oubre Jr., and that’s magnified further.

Related: Warriors’ options to replace Klay Thompson

  • In terms of potential compensation, Golden State certainly has the assets to make a James Harden trade work. That would include sending rookie No. 2 pick James Wiseman, Andrew Wiggins and the Timberwolves top-three protected first-round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. If not Brooklyn, this is a deal that would make sense for Houston. As for the Warriors, moving Wiseman could very well be a non-starter. He’s viewed as an elite talent.

James Harden trade to the Toronto Raptors

James Harden trade for Pascal Siakam?
Feb 14, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam (43) celebrates with guard Fred VanVleet (23) during a game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Raptors won 122-98. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Raptors’ pursuit of Giannis Antetokounmpo is now concluded after he opted to sign an extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. This pretty much allows Toronto to pivot as the team looks to find a true superstar to replace former NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who departed prior to the start of last season.
  • Could Raptors president Masai Ujiri now look to a James Harden trade? It’s more than possible given the team’s reported interest in Giannis. However, it remains to be seen what parts the Raptors would be willing to part with.
  • One scenario would be moving on from stud young forward Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece in a deal. He’s the type of blue-chip star the Rockets are seeking in a James Harden trade. From there, impending free agent OG Anunoby and multiple first-round picks could be headed to Houston in this proposed deal.

James Harden trade to the Dallas Mavericks

James Harden trade to the Mavericks for Kristaps Porzingis?
Feb 5, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (right) greets forward Kristaps Porzingis (6) as he comes off the court during the second half against the Memphis Grizzlies at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
  • A move of this ilk would be Mark Cuban’s way of saying that the Kristaps Porzingis experiment has not worked. He’d have to be moved to Houston as the centerpiece in any James Harden trade.
  • We already know Dallas is looking for another true star to team up with MVP candidate Luka Doncic. Whether Harden makes sense depends heavily on whether the Mavericks’ brass figures he’s a good fit with Doncic. After all, we’re talking about two ball-dominant players.
  • From Houston’s perspective, trading Harden within the state to a division rival might be a bitter pill to swallow. Even then, acquiring someone as talented as Porzingis could be a boon. In this James Harden trade scenario, Dallas also sends two future first-round picks and a solid veteran in Dwight Powell to Houston.