The Houston Rockets superstar guard made it clear he wants out, but where are the best James Harden landing spots?
In what has been an odd year for Houston and the Beard, Harden still is averaging almost 25 points a game along with 10 assists per game. Wherever he ends up thrusts their name into the championship conversation.
Best James Harden Landing Spots
#3.) New York Knicks
- James Harden
Is this a win-win for both teams? No, of course not. The Rockets are giving up an MVP caliber, top five player in the NBA. But what Houston does get back is two lottery picks in the last two NBA drafts, an expiring deal in Reggie Bullock, and two future firsts.
Barrett has proved to be inefficient from the field, but shown flashes of being an all-star caliber player, and Toppin is a wild card at the moment. The former Dayton Flyer has only played one game in the 2020-21 NBA campaign, but in his time at Dayton, Toppin showed his ability to stretch the floor. Two young, high-ceiling players who are under contract will come back to Houston as well as two future firsts, it may not be one of the ideal James Harden landing spots, but the Rockets get two pieces to start the rebuild.
For the Knicks, getting Harden proves they are going all in on competing behind head coach Tom Thibodeau. Pairing a superstar in Harden with a guy who has taken a step forward in Julius Randle may not make them a championship contender, but it certainly puts the Knicks in the playoff picture.
#2.) Chicago Bulls
- James Harden
- P.J. Tucker
The Bulls are one of the surprise James Harden landing spots that makes sense. The guard duo of James Harden and Zach LaVine puts the Bulls in the playoffs. Trading away Otto Porter allows more playing time for the fourth pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, Patrick Williams, and Chicago gets a defensive upgrade from swapping Markkanen for Tucker.
Whether or not Houston would do this deal is up in the air. Both Porter and Markkanen are on expiring deals, and trading Harden to the Bulls makes those future picks middle-to-late first rounders. Acquiring Coby White would be a win for Houston. White made the NBA All-Rookie team last season, and eleven games into this season, every counting number has jumped, putting him and Markkanen along side a point guard such as John Wall will only help their growth as young players.
But the reason the Bulls are one of the surprise James Harden landing spots is due to the amount of controlled contracts of young talent. Williams, Gafford, LaVine, White, and Wendell Carter Jr. are all 25 or younger and have two or more years left on their deal. The package does not have to be Coby White and Markkanen for that very reason. But Porter does have to be included to make the money work. Obviously, the Bulls would like to keep LaVine if this deal were to go down, but trading for MVP talent such as Harden has a steep price.
#1.) Philadelphia 76ers
- James Harden
One of the more popular James Harden landing spots is in Philadelphia. The trade down to its core is James Harden for Ben Simmons. But, adding in sweeteners of the two future picks and two role players on expiring deals may get the trade done.
For Philadelphia, pairing Harden with Joel Embiid puts the 76ers in the NBA Finals favorites conversation if they were not already. However, the loss of Simmons affects what the Sixers do defensively. The loss of his defensive versatility might prove detrimental when Philadelphia plays teams such as Milwaukee or Boston. But what Philly loses defensively, they regain that offensively, and that is why the 76ers are one of the favorites in the Harden sweepstakes.
Pairing John Wall with Ben Simmons is not an ideal pairing when talking about the three-point mindset of the NBA. Wall is a career 32.4% shooter from behind the arc, and NBA fans know about Simmons battle with the three point shot, so the pairing certainly is one of the most interesting in the NBA. But when talking about James Harden landing spots, Philly is the favorite because Simmons is the best player that will be available in a trade for Harden and Houston has to capitalize on Simmons’ availability.
Less than Ideal James Harden Landing Spots
- Toronto Raptors
- Boston Celtics
- Denver Nuggets
- Indiana Pacers
- Brooklyn Nets
Trading for the beard would be more of a detriment to these teams rather than a blessing for one simple reason: the usage that Harden demands. All five teams have young talent that thrive with the ball in their hands, so trading for James Harden would not only stunt their growth, but totally change each team’s gameplan.
Each of the five teams listed may have a very compelling trade offer for the Houston Rockets, but none of them should engage in trade talks for any of their young stars. The Raptors, Celtics, Nuggets, Nets and Pacers should all continue developing their youth and stick with the gameplan that has made them successful in the past.
Obviously trading for Harden thrusts teams into a new tier, but a career usage rate of almost 31% for Harden can change how his new team will look. There are plenty of solid landing spots for James Harden, but the five teams listed above should stay away.
Where Do You Think the Best James Harden Landing Spots are?
If you think any of these James Harden landing spots are crazy, tweet at us @OTH_Basketball and let us know where you think he will end up!
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