James Harden has made it clear he wants out of Houston, but will he get his wish? This Miami Heat trade package could get a deal done.
The Miami Heat are coming off of a season where they won the Eastern Conference. They were two wins away from winning the Larry O’Brien trophy. This year they enter the season as one of the favorites to come out of the East. But no team is more talented than the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to the Miami Herald, the Heat does have interest in acquiring Harden if the Houston Rockets are willing to trade him. As of now, Houston wants to start the season with Harden. They will not be rushed into making a trade just because there’s some uneasiness in the lockerroom.
Acquiring Harden would close the gap and probably make Miami the betting favorites to reach the NBA Finals out of the Eastern Conference. Here’s a trade that might make the Rockets want to pull the trigger and trade their star to Miami.
Miami Heat acquire James Harden (+33 projected wins)
This trade was labeled as a success, according to NBA Trade Machine.
Why the Heat do this trade
Obviously, the Heat would agree to this trade because they are getting one of the best players in basketball. The front office believes Harden would be the final missing piece to win a championship.
Harden has been infamously known for being an MVP-caliber player in the regular season but he doesn’t win when it matters most. But if he were on the Heat, it would be the first time he had this much star power around him since he was teammates with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with the Oklahoma City Thunder. When he was with those two All-Stars, he reached the NBA Finals in 2012.
Harden has led the league in points per game the last three seasons and of course, won the 2017-2018 MVP. It would be hard to imagine Harden not getting to the Finals if he is alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
I understand that Heat fans fell in love with Tyler Herro in the playoffs last season, but the bottom line is he is a great bench option on this team and the Heat would be getting a top-10 player in the world. The only reason he played so many minutes in the bubble is that Erik Spoelstra was forced to ride the hot hand in the playoffs.
The 2022 first-round pick probably wouldn’t be that big of a deal since the Heat figure to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference for the next couple of years. Even if that pick ends up being a great player, Miami would be fine trading it if it meant they could win another championship.
For those worried about giving up too much for Harden when he could leave in two years, it shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. All Harden wants is a chance to win a championship in his prime. If he’s traded to the Heat, his chances would be much higher than they currently are in Houston.
Harden’s situation looks a lot like Anthony Davis‘ when he forced a trade from the Pelicans in 2019. The Lakers took a chance on bringing Davis to Los Angeles in their trade with New Orleans. Despite having only one year left on his deal before free agency this past offseason.
It, of course, paid off with the Lakers winning their 17th title in franchise history. Davis then signed a max extension with the team before the preseason started.
The Heat could look to do the same thing with Harden.
Why the Rockets do this trade
Owner Tilman Fertitta doesn’t want to trade Harden and understandably so. Harden is the franchise’s best player since Hakeem Olajuwon and is the reason why thousands of people go to Rockets games.
But, it’s hard for Head Coach, Stephen Silas, to do his job when every player in the locker room knows that their best player doesn’t really want to be there. The NBA is a star-driven league. So when your star player wants out and you don’t trade him, the culture inside the organization can become toxic pretty quickly. It would be better for Houston’s front office to move on and just start with a fresh slate.
And so that’s the main reason why the Rockets would trade the face of their franchise. Houston obviously still wants to contend with or without him because they wouldn’t have added veteran players including John Wall (via trade) and DeMarcus Cousins (via free agency) if they wanted to rebuild. Under this scenario, Houston would still be able to contend for a playoff spot.
Herro is an impactful piece off the bench for a bona fide contender like the Heat. He would become a young piece Houston could build around. He is entering his second season after being a first-round draft pick two drafts ago for Pat Riley. We already know he can perform in the playoffs, as he lit up the bubble. Most notably when he scored 21 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
Acquiring Andre Iguodala gives the Rockets another veteran player that has won multiple championships. He can still give them 20 minutes a game off the bench. Kelly Olynyk would either start in front of Cousins or be a nice piece coming off the bench who can make about 40% of his three-point attempts and get you about five rebounds per game.
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