NBA Training Camp is a month away, and James Harden is still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. With new reporting about Harden’s relationship with Daryl Morey coming almost every week, tension is high between the two. Harden’s request to be traded to the Los Angeles Clippers has not been fulfilled, and Harden has turned up the heat with his antics to try to force Morey and the Sixers’ hand.
If the Clippers aren’t willing to provide the Sixers with an offer they deem appropriate, the Sixers may look for another trade partner. Harden has his “preferred” list of teams he would like to be traded to, but Morey could look into unconventional trade partners for the 76ers. Take a look at three trades unconventional destinations for James Harden:
Harden Heads to NOLA
In this scenario, the 76ers trade James Harden to the New Orleans Pelicans for CJ McCollum. For the Pelicans, they get a true playmaker and pick-and-roll partner for Zion Williamson. He could also provide playmaking to make Brandon Ingram’s job easier on offense. Harden’s contract would only be for one year, and it could allow him to either play for an extension or allow the Pelicans to have cap space next summer to pursue free agents that fit better with their young guns.
For the 76ers, this would be somewhat full circle. It was rumored that the Portland Trailblazers offered McCollum for Ben Simmons during that trade saga. Simmons was eventually traded for Harden and now would be traded for McCollum. McCollum is a professional scorer and has some playmaking ability in his game. He could help mentor Tyrese Maxey and provide a consistent scoring punch every night. The Pelicans’ veteran has three years left on his deal, which could cause Morey to be hesitant to make a deal, but if this is the best deal on the table, he could make it.
Sixers and T’Wolves Make a Deal
Trading Harden to the Twin Cities would be an interesting outcome for both the 76ers and the Timberwolves. Harden could arrive in Minnesota and be the playmaking and scoring threat the Wolves need to compete in the West. He would be joining a roster with young stars Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns. He would also be playing with an excellent pick-and-roll partner who rolls to the rim hard, something Harden prefers. If it doesn’t work out, the Wolves would only be tied to Harden for this upcoming season.
The 76ers would be able to get back a great playmaker in Mike Conley Jr., who is in the last year of his contract, which would allow the 76ers to retain financial flexibility next summer. Conley is also a good three-point shooter and would most likely defer to Embiid, Maxey, and Harris for scoring. Kyle Anderson could be a good get for the 76ers to provide playmaking off the bench. Anderson doesn’t really fit on the Wolves and can be utilized better under head coach Nick Nurse.
Philly Tangles with Atlanta and LA
This three-team trade could work for all teams involved, getting them out of situations and getting them players; they may fit better for them and their future. Legally, this trade could not be completed until after January 15th due to salary cap rules, but could help each team if this was something they could pull off.
There have been whispers that the Lakers are interested in Trae Young and watching how things unfold in Atlanta. Young in the Hawks haven’t really blossomed into anything special, except for their run to the Eastern Conference finals in 2021. If Young and the Hawks continue to underperform, they could look to pull the plug, and the Lakers would love to swoop in.
The Hawks and Trae Young haven’t seen eye to eye in recent years, with Young being labeled by some as toxic or a “coach killer.” If Atlanta wanted to part ways with Young, they could get some future first-round picks and James Harden as a prize. Harden could be complimented well playing alongside Dejounte Murray, who is a good two-way player. Harden could also play his way into a short extension if he plays well. The beard may also like Atlanta’s nightlife, which could be attractive to him on his off days.
In this deal, The Sixers would be getting a young up-and-coming two-way player in Austin Reeves to pair with Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid for the future. Reeves’ contract isn’t expensive, so it would hinder any future cap space. Vanderbilt is a player the 76ers were after during last season’s trade deadline, and he could fit perfectly in Nurse’s defensive system.