One dark horse in particular could be a perfect match for The Beard
After several seasons and many failed experiments in Houston, it seems as though the championship window is almost closed on the Rockets. James Harden wants out. The front office will do what it can to keep the offensive juggernaut happy in Houston, unless they can get what they want in a huge trade. Recently, Westbrook demanded to be traded as he was not happy with the style of play on offense. The Rockets obliged and sent him to Washington for All-Star John Wall. Still, Harden wants out and it apparently has nothing to do with John Wall.
So, this leads me to the entertaining thought of where Harden could end up. Here are my top three potential destinations for The Beard.
3. Brooklyn Nets
Obviously there have been a number of reports and rumors that Harden wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and they're true; he wants to form a Big 3 with KD and Kyrie. The main reason it could happen is due to the relationship KD and Harden formed in OKC. These guys came up in the league together and turned heads before going their separate ways. It would be nice to see them finish out their primes together in Brooklyn.
Harden going to Brooklyn is pretty unlikely, though, unless a third team got involved. Houston is going to want an All-Star level player and then some for Harden, and Brooklyn is not willing to give up Kyrie. If a third team mixes in looking for solid role guys and is willing to trade a young All-Star, then it becomes a possibility. So far...silence.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
Everyone around the League knows Embiid is not an option to be traded; he's the benchmark of the 76ers. Ben Simmons, on the other hand, is one of the better younger players in the league that could be a tasty trade piece. Able to guard multiple positions and facilitate, he would be a dynamo in the Houston offense (assuming they maintain small ball).
A Harden-Embiid duo would be a tough task for opposing defenses. Embiid would be able to play closer to the rack while Harden would go to work from outside and inside. A ball dominant shooting/point guard who is perhaps the best scorer in the league would be a sight for sore 76er eyes. But Daryl Morey, Harden's former GM and current Sixers Pres. of Basketball Operations, has said he doesn't want to make any changes to his centerpieces and wants to give them another season to make something happen. I guess there's this thing in Philadelphia called "The Process" that began in 2013. It moves at a snails pace, but it...moves.
1. New Orleans Pelicans
Bear with me on this underdog. The Pels have a bevy of young talent they could offload to Houston along with All-Star Brandon Ingram (tradable in February). This would free up cap space for quality role guys to complement Harden and Williamson. The Pelicans are one of the youngest teams in the NBA, and normally you let your core improve and mature. But Williamson has had some injuries already.
Zion has had surgery on a torn meniscus as well as a freak knee injury while at Duke (remember his foot bursting through his shoe?). The mesmerizing strength and size you see is also what could contribute to being banged up consistently. That could scare the Pelicans front office into smashing their foot on the gas. Trade away young players and draft picks for Harden to team up with Zion and time hop a few years into a potential Championship, before injuries get to Zion. It's a possibility, albeit slim.
Let's be realistic
Realistically, Jayson Tatum gets another tattoo before the season begins and Harden stays in Houston until the March trade deadline. Teams are looking to stick with their stars and unwilling to make moves at the moment, despite some insane rumors. John Wall thinks they could make a good combo in Houston, and with Harden returning to the hardwood in the preseason, it looks like he might stay...for now.
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