The season hasn’t started but Houston is in a hurry to figure out this James Harden situation. Adrian Wojnarowski recently said that the Rockets intend to move Harden “sooner than later.”
Dallas has an opportunity to get in and help facilitate a trade with some of the potential landing spots that have been named. Let’s discuss some of them and why they could be beneficial for the Mavericks.
First up is Brooklyn. It’s no secret why the Nets were initially listed as Harden’s top destination and he continues to be linked with them. A trio of Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant would be absolute insanity for more than one reason. Here’s my proposed scenario:
- The Nets receive James Harden, Brodric Thomas, Dallas’ 2021 second round pick, and Dallas’ 2024 second round pick.
- The Rockets receive Caris Levert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarret Allen, Dwight Powell, Brooklyn’s 2021 unprotected first round pick, Brooklyn’s 2021 second round pick (originally from Indiana), and Brooklyn’s 2023 unprotected first round pick.
- The Mavericks receive PJ Tucker and Nic Claxton
Dallas getting involved in the trade prevents the Nets from having to include Taurean Prince or another sizeable contract. Claxton is a valuable young asset, so receiving him in return for helping facilitate the trade would allow Dallas to move off of Powell’s larger contract while replacing him with a young, functional, rim-running big.
Next, we have the Miami Heat. The Heat have been a part of many discussions after making the finals last season. If they’re looking to take a step up by adding another star, here’s what it will likely take:
- Miami receives James Harden.
- Houston receives Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Precious Achiuwa, Andre Iguadala, Dwight Powell, Miami’s 2022 unprotected first round pick, and Miami’s 2024 unprotected first round pick. Achiuwa was selected in this most recent draft, so he cannot be traded until December 25th.
- Dallas receives PJ Tucker.
This package for Harden might seem rather large, but the offer to beat is Philadelphia’s, so the offer is going to need to be overwhelming if Miami wants to land the Beard. This trade benefits all sides because Miami gets a star in Harden, Houston gets young assets and picks, and Dallas moves off of a large, long-term contract in Dwight Powell while still receiving a quality vet in Tucker in return.
This is where it gets interesting. Let me preface this scenario by saying that while there are many players that will be free agents this next year, several of the players are restricted free agents and a large majority of the unrestricted free agents/players with player options will likely return to their current teams. After the Rudy Gobert extension, the list of 2021 free agents isn’t looking as long anymore. This move would be an all-in type move that I could take or leave:
- Philadelphia receives James Harden.
- Houston receives Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott, Dwight Powell, Dallas’ 2021 second round pick, Houston’s 2022 unprotected first round pick, Dallas’ 2022 unprotected first round pick, and Dallas’ 2022 second round pick.
- Dallas receives Tobias Harris.
While his contract is large, he averaged 19.6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 34 minutes while shooting 36.7 percent on 5 threes per game. Dallas is a team that plays with a lot more space, so he would be a better fit here on the offensive end and could give us another scoring option who has the ability to create his own shot. This move would tie us up financially long term, but if his contract needed to be moved down the line, I have faith that our front office could make it happen.
Portland Trail Blazers
This last scenario is the least likely but we’ve seen crazier things:
- Portland receives James Harden.
- Houston receives CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, James Johnson, Portland’s 2022 unprotected first round pick, and Portland’s 2022 second round pick.
- Dallas receives PJ Tucker and Portland’s 2024 unprotected first round pick.
Johnson and Tucker are both expiring contracts, but Tucker is at the stage in his career where he wants to be on a contender, so Dallas only makes this trade if we can get an indication from him that he intends to stick around. Trading Johnson to Houston prevents Portland from having to include another large contract to make the contracts work. This would be a good trade for Portland because Harden would be an upgrade from McCollum. A backcourt of Dame and Harden would be nearly impossible to guard. Harden’s personality would be a questionable fit in Rip City, but if they’re looking to take a step up, this might be their opportunity.
I’ll also add that I don’t think Toronto, Golden State, or Boston are realistic scenarios. I don’t think any of those teams are good fits culture-wise for Harden so that’s why I didn’t include them in this piece.
The season hasn’t started just yet, so what’s a little more chaos into the ether?