Portland Trail Blazers: Three Potential Trade Packages for James Harden

Published 12/25/2020, 12:23 AM EST
Dec 15, 2020; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden leaves the court after a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Mike Wyke/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports


James Harden wants out of the Houston Rockets. The incidents from the past few weeks have been a direct indicator that ‘The Beard’ no longer sees himself playing in Houston. Harden showed up late for practice as he was busy partying.

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And when he returned, he was again spotted partying, especially without a mask in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, Harden continues to add more teams to his list of targets. Another team has now emerged as a potential target- the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Blazers have a solid core with star player Damian Lillard. The prospect of James Harden and Damian Lillard leading a team is frightening. But it could be a reality, and these are the packages the Blazers could offer in order to make it so.

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James Harden – Package 1

DENVER, CO – MAY 12: CJ McCollum (3) of the Portland Trail Blazers stands tall after hitting a clutch shot over Torrey Craig (3) of the Denver Nuggets with 11 seconds to play during the fourth quarter of the Trail Blazers’ series-clinching 100-96 win on Sunday, May 12, 2019. The Denver Nuggets versus the Portland Trail Blazers in game seven of the teams’ second round NBA playoff series at the Pepsi Center in Denver. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

This package would see the Blazers trading CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, and their 2024 first-round pick for James Harden. It would be tough to accommodate CJ McCollum and James Harden on the same team, given that they both have high salaries, and play the same position. Additionally, Rodney Hood serves as a back-up for McCollum.

While CJ McCollum has proven how good he can be, James Harden is an obvious upgrade over him. A back-court of James Harden and Dame Lillard setting up big-man Jusuf Nurkić in the paint is a dangerous prospect for all other NBA teams. But maybe the Blazers can try something the Rockets tried with James Harden…

Package 2

Dec 15, 2020; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) passes the ball over San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) and guard Lonnie Walker IV (middle right) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) during the first half. Mandatory Credit: Mike Wyke/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

This package has Jusuf Nurkić, Robert Covington, and Anfernee Simons for Harden. This package would be hard to sell for the Blazers, as the Rockets just traded Covington to the Blazers. Furthermore, the package doesn’t leave the Rockets with any draft picks. However, the addition of Jusuf Nurkić could be interesting for the Rockets.

Both DeMarcus Cousins and Jusuf Nurkić will be difficult to place together, but the two give the Rockets significant size that they have lacked. On the flip side, Portland can try going small and accommodating McCollum, Harden, and Lillard in a small-ball lineup. Given that CJ and Dame are much better shooters than Harden has had, the possibility of it working is there.

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James Harden – Package 3

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 14: James Harden of the Houston Rockets shoots duringState Farm All-Star Saturday Night – NBA All-Star Weekend 2015 at Barclays Center on February 14, 2015 in New York, New York. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

This package sees CJ McCollum, Robert Covington, and 2023 first-round pick go Houston’s way. The Rockets traded Covington in order to surround Harden with new pieces. However, if Harden chooses to move on, then there is no harm in bringing him back. Plus, CJ McCollum can do great things if given the chance to be the number one player on a team.

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It remains to be seen if James Harden can force his way out of Houston. While the Blazers are happy with their current roster, Harden would be an obvious improvement on the current squad. Perhaps the Blazers will take that gamble, but with both Harden and Lillard being two ball-dominant players, it might not be the ideal fit Portland would look for.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1213 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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