James Harden, We Have a Problem: An Update on Four Teams That Could Trade for the Lonely Houston Star in 2021

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By now, it has been blatant that James Harden is not happy in Houston. It started with Russell Westbrook getting traded to the Washington Wizards in a shock trade for John Wall, and escalated to partying and fines instead of going to practice. Although Harden is playing in Houston now, it’s not a good look. Let’s break down what is actually happening and what the solution could be.

Trade Destinations

Every day that passes, there is a new “preferred trade destination” for James Harden. But which team is willing to take the plunge?

Team #1: The Brooklyn Nets
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 01: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets is defended by Caris LeVert #22 of the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on November 01, 2019 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

The Brooklyn Nets have been one of the early rumours as a destination for James Harden. It was reported in November and quickly became a running joke.

“Ball-hog” seems to be the common theme for this trade rumour, and there was a lot of division between analysts and fans. Although this was a glamourous idea, the Nets are just not ideal for Harden. The truth is, the Nets have a good offensive team with the Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant duo. The loss of Spencer Dinwiddie means that the Nets lose a possible trading piece if they were to go after James Harden.

Likelihood of James Harden to Nets: Medium, bordering on Low
Team #2: The Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden, Joel Embiid

After Daryl Morey left the Rockets and joined the Philadelphia 76ers as the president of basketball operations, the James Harden to Philadelphia rumours intensified. The connection between Harden and Morey seems to be a factor, with Morey even getting fined for a tweet involving Harden. However, these trade talks also seem to come to a halt, mainly because the 76ers don’t seem to be keen on giving up Ben Simmons or including him in any trade packages. A lot of teams (that will be mentioned throughout this piece) have the young assets to obtain James Harden, but trade talks never seem to get anywhere because of the hesitance that comes with giving up young talent.

In addition to this, the 76ers are first in the Eastern Conference, starting out with a 7-1 record. If they had started out poorly, they probably would have been more aggressive in Harden talks.

Likelihood of James Harden to 76ers: Medium, But Getting Low
Team #3: The Miami Heat
Feb 7, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) drives to the basket past Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) during the first half of an NBA basketball game at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat have not started with the best record, and they certainly have the assets to trade for Harden. In this article by Joey Jackson, he talks about the various factors involved with James Harden and the Miami Heat. So, what’s stopping them? Jackson mentions that the trade package would have to include Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and more. The Heat have made it clear that they do not want to give up Tyler Herro, but this has people divided.

Jokes aside, which side do you fall on? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @oth_basketball.

Likelihood of James Harden to Heat: Medium, could move to High (depends if talks continue)
Team #4: The Toronto Raptors
Photo: Nathan Denette/Associated Press

If anyone could bring some decent scoring to Toronto’s offensive issues right now, it would be James Harden. He is already averaging 29.4 PPG, with over 30 PPG in his December games. The Toronto Raptors weren’t even on Harden’s original list, but Raptors fans have great powers.

Even if the Raptors do more than a courtesy call and actually pursue the Houston star, they would most likely need to give up Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and others in the trade package. Another issue for the Toronto Raptors has been their centers and size. Letting go of some of these guys will punish the Raptors by forcing them to play small ball. James Harden might be able to solve some of the Raptors’ problems, but he isn’t the solution to making them a contender. The Raptors have some shuffling to do, and it would be interesting to see if they try to go after James Harden.

Likelihood of James Harden to the Raptors: Low

So, What Now?

Out of all these four teams, The Miami Heat seems like the most likely team to continue trade talks. That being said, there is a common question that each team needs to ask themselves. Are you willing to give up your young prospects and good assets for a superstar that has entered his thirties with three years left on his deal? We will just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the Rockets are set to play Friday, January 8 at 8:00 pm EST. Until Harden gets traded, he will continue playing for this Houston team, trying to increase his trade value.

To keep following James Harden and all things basketball, check out our website at and follow me on Twitter @crinamm!

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Crina Mustafa is a first year Sport Media student with an interest in producing social media content and sport journalism. She is a basketball and tennis writer, and also manages social media for places like Raptors Cage. Crina is currently a NBA writer for Overtime Heroics.