After another disappointing postseason for the Philadelphia 76ers, there is a good chance that James Harden does not return to the team. In his most recent contract with the team, Harden took a pay cut so the front office would be able to bring in some more talent to surround him and Joel Embiid.
However, after being bounced in the second round by the Boston Celtics, it is clear that the duo of Harden and Embiid do not have what it takes to get it done in the postseason. As a result of this, there is a good chance that Harden will be off to a new team this offseason to try to win a ring before his Hall of Fame career comes to an end. There are three teams that have the best chance of landing Harden this offseason.
James Harden had the bulk of his success in the NBA as a member of the Houston Rockets. While this move would not be quite the same as LeBron James coming back to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston could put together a very talented team around Harden.
They currently have a handful of very talented young players. As a result of this, they still have enough cap space to bring in some of the top talents in this year’s free agency class. If they were to sign Harden alone, it would not be enough for them to likely even make the playoffs in a very competitive Western Conference.
However, they would have more than enough assets to make a trade for Jaylen Brown. Earlier on in the offseason, the Rockets signed Ime Udoka to be the team’s head coach. Brown and Udoka had an incredible relationship during their time together on the Boston Celtics, and he was able to get the best out of him.
Along with this, there may be enough talent and draft capital remaining on the roster for the team to acquire one other big-name player. If Harden signs a team-friendly deal as he did for the 76ers, they could quickly become one of the best teams in the league if their front office can make the right moves.
The second team that would be a very intriguing fit for Harden would be the Phoenix Suns. It is clear that Chris Paul is not what the team needs. While he is still a very talented player, especially for his age, his inability to remain healthy through the postseason is something that can kill a playoff run for Phoenix.
They would be more than capable of putting together a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers that would send Harden to the Suns and Paul to the 76ers. This would give Phoenix a big three of Harden, Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant while Philadelphia would have an elite pick-and-roll duo in Paul and Embiid.
The final team that could make a move for Harden this offseason is the Miami Heat. The Heat made an impossible run through the playoffs this season. They became the first play-in team to win a playoff series, the first play-in team to make the NBA Finals, and the second team in the history of the league to make the Finals as the 8th seed.
They have a chance to further add to their roster by acquiring James Harden. When Harden initially requested a trade from the Rockets, the Heat were very interested. While the Brooklyn Nets ended up beating them out, they could end up making a run for him this offseason.
He would be an incredible distributor for the team, and Miami has a couple of players that they would likely be okay with moving in a sign and trade for Harden.
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