NBA

Trading James Harden To Every Playoff Team

James Harden trade talks are heating up, which means it is time for sports nerds like me to hit up the ESPN Trade Machine!

Ranked by the reality, likeliness of it happening, fit and more. Not all trades will make sense, just trying to pull off a two team trade (no three team+ deals) with each.

Rules: The trading team will not trade one of it’s top two players, unless it makes sense to move one for Harden.


  1. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia trades PG Ben Simmons, SG Matisse Thybulle, PG Tyrese Maxey, SF Danny Green, 2021 FRP
Houston trades SG James Harden, PF PJ Tucker, PG Chris Clemons

Philadelphia starting five: C Joel Embiid, PF Tobias Harris, SF PJ Tucker, SG Seth Curry, PG James Harden
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Ben Simmons, SF Danny Green, SG Matisse Thybulle, PG John Wall

This might be the only trade in this entire post that would make sense for both teams. Houston gets their young All Star, a couple of nice young players and a first round pick. Philadelphia gets Harden, who would be a great fit with Embiid and the various shooters on the roster. Unless Brooklyn can get a third team involved, I would bet on something like this happening.


2. Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn trades SG Caris LeVert, PF Taurean Prince, PG Spencer Dinwiddie, C DeAndre Mordan, FRP’s in 2021, 2023 and 2025, pick swaps in 2022 and 2024
Houston trades SG James Harden, PF PJ Tucker, SG David Nwaba, PG Chris Clemons

Brooklyn starting five: C Jarrett Allen, PF Kevin Durant, SF Joe Harris, SG James Harden, PG Kyrie Irving
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Taurean Prince, SF Caris LeVert, SG Eric Gordon, PG John Wall

Brooklyn is the favorites, but without much young talent to trade, will have to ship out all of their first round picks. This would signal a total rebuild for Houston, since only perhaps LeVert would be a part of the teams future plans. All of those picks, though. Ask Danny Ainge how that worked out last time.


3. Golden State Warriors

Golden State trades C James Wiseman, SG Andrew Wiggins, PF Eric Paschall, two 2021 FRP’s (one from GS, one from MIN)
Houston trades SG James Harden

Golden State starting five: C Kevon Looney, PF Draymond Green, SF Kelly Oubre Jr., SG James Harden, PG Stephen Curry
Houston starting five: C James Wiseman, PF Christian Wood, SF PJ Tucker, SG James Wiggins, PG John Wall

This definitely could have made sense a couple of years ago, but I do not know if Golden State would make this move right now. They love Wiseman. Still, imagine Curry, Harden and a healthy Klay Thompson. Fun.


4. Toronto Rators

Toronto trades PF Pascal Siakam, PG Kyle Lowry, 2021 FRP
Houston trades SG James Harden, SG Eric Gordon, SG Ben McLemore

Toronto starting five: C Aron Baynes, PF Chris Boucher, SF OG Anunoby, SG James Harden, PG Fred VanVleet
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Pascal Siakam, SF Danuel House, SG John Wall, PG Kyle Lowry

This is a lost season for the Raptors, but never count out Masai Ujiri, so I am including them on this list. He is not afraid to make a franchise altering trade. Harden may not be happy, but the Raptors could be right back to their winning ways once they return to Toronto. Houston would get Siakam and what is looking like a top five pick in this draft. Also, they could move Kyle Lowry for more assets. Most likely will not happen, but we have seen crazier.


5. Denver Nuggets

Denver trades PG Jamal Murray, SG Will Barton, C Zeke Nnaji, 2021 and 2023 FRP’s
Houston tades SG James Harden, SG Ben McLemore, SG David Nwaba

Denver starting five: C Nikola Jokic, PF Paul Millsap, SF Michael Porter, SG Gary Harris, PG James Harden
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Will Barton, SG Jamal Murray, PG John Wall

Jamal Murray could fit the bill as a young up and coming player that Houston is targeting. He is also somewhat of a homeless man’s James Harden, so this would be a good swap in Denver. Makes sense on paper, but superstars have never had any interest in playing in Denver.


6. Indiana Pacers

Indiana trades PG Malcolm Brogdon, SG Victor Oladipo, PG Aaron Holiday, C Goga Bitadze, FRP’s in 2021 and 2023, pick swaps in 2022 and 2024
Houston trades SG James Harden, PF PJ Tucker, SG Ben McLemore

Indiana starting five: C Myles Turner, PF Domantas Sabonis, SF TJ Warren, SG Jeremy Lamb, PG James Harden
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Bruno Caboclo, SF Victor Oladipo, SG Malcolm Brogdon, PG John Wall

That starting five in Indiana would be awfully dangerous. As for Houston, Malcolm Brogdon is a great player, but not one a rebuilding team would be particularly interested in. The Pacers would have to throw in a ton of draft picks, and the Pacers are basically the Nuggets of the East; a good team that no one would ever want to join.


7. Portland Trail Blazers

Portland trades SG CJ McCollum, C Jusuf Nurkic, 2023 FRP
Houston trades SG James Harden, PG Chris Clemons

Portland starting five: C Enes Kanter, PF Robert Covington, SF Rodney Hood, SG James Harden, PG Damian Lillard
Houston starting five: C Jusuf Nurkic, PF Christian Wood, SF Danuel House, SG CJ McCollum, PG John Wall

This would be a fun back court, on paper, but Harden does not seem to fit with the Portland culture. That is, and will always be, Damian Lillard’s team. I do not see a match here.


8. Boston Celtics

Boston trades SG Jaylen Brown, SG Marcus Smart, SG Romeo Langford
Houston trades SG James Harden

Boston starting five: C Tristan Thompson, PF Daniel Theis, SF Jayson Tatum, SG James Harden, PG Kemba Walker
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Jaylen Brown, SG Marcus Smart, PG John Wall

I could imagine the Rockets already called Danny Ainge. This would be a great package. Ainge might have gone for it a couple of years ago, but after suffering through the Kyrie Irving era, the locker room probably wants some peace and quiet. You can never count Boston out, but nothing to see here.


9. Miami Heat

Miami trades C Bam Adebayo, SF Andre Iguodala, SG Tyler Herro, PF Precious Achiuwa, PF Kelly Olynyk, SG Devin Robinson, SG Kendrick Nunn
Houston trades SG James Harden

Miami Starting five: C Meyers Leonard, PF Moe Harkless, SF Jimmy Butler, SG James Harden, PG Goran Dragic
Houston starting five: C Bam Adebayo, PF Christian Wood, SF Danuel House, SG Tyler Herro, John Wall

I think the Heat are in on Harden, but it would definitely have to be a three team trade, since they would have to ship off virtually every player for salaries to match up. Bam Adebayo is not going anywhere. Nope, not like this.


10. San Antonio Spurs

San Antonio trades SF DeMar DeRozan, SG Devin Vassell, SF Keldon Johnson, PG Patty Mills, 2021 and 2023 FRP’s
Houston trades SG James Harden, PF PJ Tucker

San Antonio starting five: C LaMarcus Aldridge, PF PJ Tucker, SF Rudy Gay, SG James Harden, PG Dejounte Murray
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Danuel House, SF DeMar DeRozan, SG Keldon Johnson, PG John Wall

This would probably be an ideal trade for the Rockets. The Spurs have a very nice collection of young players to choose from, and DeRozan could keep the team afloat in the mean time. However, no chance. Division rival and Harden is not a San Antonio type of player.


11. Dallas Mavericks

Dallas trades SG Tim Hardaway Jr., SG Josh Richardson, PF Maxi Kleber, SG Josh Green, PG Jalen Brunson, Round 1 pick swaps in 2022, 2024, FRP in 2025.
Houston trades SG James Harden, SG Ben McLemore

Dallas starting five: C Dwight Powell, PF Kristaps Porzingis, SF Dorian Finney-Smith, SG James Harden, PG Luka Doncic
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF Maxi Kleber, SF Tim Hardaway Jr., SG Josh Richardson, PG John Wall

Dallas aleady owes the Knicks first round picks in 2021 and 2023. There isn’t much firepower to offer beyond Porzingis and Doncic. Nothing to see here.


12. Utah Jazz

Utah trades SG Donovan Mitchell, PG Mike Conley
Houston trades SG James Harden

Utah starting five: C Rudy Gobert, PF Bogdan Bogdanovic, SF Royce O’Neal, SG Joe Ingles, PG James Harden
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Danuel House, SG Donovan Mitchell, PG John Wall

The Rockets would probably be all over this one, but that is about it. I crack up imaging Harden being shipped to the NBA purgatory that is Salt Lake City.


13. Phoenix Suns

Phoenix trades SG Devin Booker, PF Jalen Smith, SF Mikal Bridges, SF Cameron Johnson
Houston trades SG James Harden

Phoenix starting five: C DeAndre Ayton, PF Dario Saric, SF Jae Crowder, SG James Harden, PG Chris Paul
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Danuel House, SG Devin Booker, PG John Wall

Booker is the face of the Phoenix franchise. His salary would have to be included. Chris Paul would retire before having to share a back court with Harden again. Less than zero chance here.


14. Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles trades SF Kawhi Leonard, SG Lou Williams
Houston trades SG James Harden, SF Kenyon Martin Jr.

Los Angeles starting five: C Ivica Zubac, PF Marcus Morris, SF Paul George, SG James Harden, PG Patrick Beverley
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Kawhi Leonard, SG Eric Gordon, PG John Wall

Paul George, Patrick Patterson, Reggie Jackson, Nic Batum and Marcus Morris can not yet be traded. Every other player on the Clippers roster, minus Leonard, would not match up with Harden’s salary. So, less than zero chance of anything happening here.


15. Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee trades SF Khris Middleton, PF DJ Wilson, SG Donte DiVincenzo, all the second round picks in the world
Houston trades SG James Harden

Milwaukee starting five: C Brook Lopez, PF Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF Pat Connaughton, SG Jrue Holiday, PG James Harden
Houston starting five: C Christian Wood, PF PJ Tucker, SF Danuel House, SG Khris Middleton, PG John Wall

Milwaukee shipped out all of their draft capital in the Jrue Holiday trade. Salaries do match up, but Milwaukee has absolutely zero to offer Houston.


16. Los Angeles Lakers

N/A

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are ineligible to, and will not, be traded. Every other available player on the Lakers would not match up salary wise. Nothing can be done here.

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