As teams are overperforming or underperforming, many franchises will be looking to trade for an all-time talent like Harden to put them in a position to become playoff-caliber teams or even possibly title contenders.
One of those teams that is already beginning to gain interest in the three-time scoring champion is the 2019 NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors originally shied away from trading for the former MVP, as they believed he brought in too much baggage and could hurt the chemistry that the 2020 Coach of the Year, Nick Nurse, has established.
After their 0-3 start and blatant offensive struggles – a worst-in-conference 102 points per game average – Toronto is beginning to test the waters in the James Harden Sweepstakes... and are more than likely about to dive in headfirst.
NBA Trade Rumors: The Toronto Raptors would not worry about Harden leaving after his contract is up
It is not common to have a James Harden's caliber player waiting around on the trade market. Still, organizations have been patiently waiting until they can try to low-ball the Houston Rockets in the assets they give up for the eight-time All-Star.
There are seven teams known to be in discussions to trade for the superstar: the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Miami Heat, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Denver Nuggets. Soon the Toronto Raptors are likely to join the mix, and there is a high chance they have already been in discussions privately.
With a deal not coming close from any of the seven franchises that are on the record, the Raptors' desperation would likely jump them to the head of the line and force a trade sooner rather than later to avoid any more early season losses.
Toronto Raptors President of Basketball Operations, Masai Ujiri, is not afraid to pull the trigger on a trade. We saw him do it with the Kawhi Leonard deal in the summer 2018, knowing that it was unlikely for the 2019 Finals MVP to stay in Toronto longer than one season.
For many teams, Harden's lack of commitment to express his willingness to stay long term has been a deal-breaker. However, the Raptors may be the only team in the league that is not interested in whether the All-Star will leave after his contract is up, and we know this because of how they went about the Leonard deal.
NBA Trade Rumors: The Toronto Raptors would be the best fit for James Harden
James Harden would instantly impact any team he goes to, but his expertise would greatly influence the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are currently last in the league in offensive efficiency with 94.3 points per 100 possessions, according to teamrankings.com. James Harden alone is worth 44 points per 100.
The Toronto Raptors are also shooting more 3-pointers than they did last season, but at a lower percentage, 34.8 percent. According to Basketball-Reference.com, in Harden's first games of the 2020-21 campaign, he is 50 percent from 3-point range, and The Beard ranks No. 5 all-time for most 3-pointers made.
With James Harden's unique playstyle that depends on him being ball-centric, he would, without a doubt, improve Toronto's offense and potentially put them back in contention for another championship, similar to how Kawhi did in the 2018-2019 season.
Published 31 Dec 2020, 06:31 IST