3. James Harden, PHI
Before you swipe away, hear me out!
Is Harden a fit for Heat Culture? No… Can you rely on him in the playoffs? No.
But is this trade risky?
See, Harden opted into the final year of his contract, meaning he’ll be a free agent after the season. The Heat, if desperate to add a star next to Butler and Bam, could trade for Harden and, if it doesn’t work out, walk away after the season.
On paper, Harden and Bam are a strong pick-and-roll partnership that could serve as the fulcrum of Miami’s offense — which has lacked an identity in the moments Butler decided he didn’t want to go full Super Saiyan. Much in the same way Harden and Joel Embiid connected to be the league’s best pick-and-roll duo (or how many Heat fans have imagined Lillard fitting with Bam), Harden and Bam could pick-and-roll teams to depth while allowing Butler to pick his spots.
Yeah, Harden’s a liability on defense. But Philadelphia ranked eighth in DRTG last season with Harden, and Spoelstra has masked other subpar defenders like Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and Goran Dragic in the past. He could do it again with Harden.
Maybe this still sounds crazy, but consider that the Heat could also get out of Kyle Lowry’s contract, the long-term salary of Duncan Robinson and avoid having to pay Caleb Martin next summer, and the cap relief could be enough to tip the scales from crazy to conceivable.
The buzz around a Damian Lillard trade is picking up, but where do the Miami Heat stand in trade talks with the Trail Blazers? Here's the latest.
*This story was updated from the original version to reflect the Lillard trade news.