For the third time since 2020, James Harden has requested a trade. This time from the Philadelphia 76ers. However, with the new CBA, most teams are unable to complete a trade for the former MVP without a second team to eat salary. This is where the Washington Wizards come in.
While they should absolutely not trade for Harden, the Wizards should be involved in the discussions. They could play the same role the Cleveland Cavaliers did back in the second trade featuring the future hall of famer.
During this trade, they landed Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in exchange for Donte Exum and two picks. One in the late first-round, and one in the mid-second-round. That is probably one of the best returns in a trade package in recent memory, and they were hardly featured other than as a team to dump salary.
What teams interested in James Harden could make a similar trade?
The main teams interested in Harden at this point seem to be the Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks. Let’s start with the Knicks.
We already know that Kyle Kuzma is wanting to sign a big deal with a large market team while also competing for a championship. Few teams fit this mold more than the Knicks who are fresh off of their deepest playoff run in nearly 25 years. It would not be difficult to convince Kuzma to agree to a sign and trade to New York.
They are also interested in James Harden according to Adrian Wojnarowski, making this an interesting trade scenario.
In this trade scenario, Kyle Kuzma signs for around $20 million and is shipped off to a location where he can be a legitimate contributor toward a potential championship. He would get everything he claimed to want earlier in the year.
The Wizards would pick up a rising star in Obi Toppin as well as a veteran shooting guard in Evan Fournier in exchange for a player who is probably leaving in free agency anyway.
The 76ers would get a multi-time All-NBA member and a good point guard for off the bench in exchange for James Harden. Imagining a frontcourt of Julius Randle and Joel Embiid might just be enough to convince them to pull the trigger on the trade.
The biggest question mark would be the Knicks as they are giving up the most. However, they are also receiving two of the three best players in the deal between Kuzma and Harden. The offense generated by Jalen Brunson along with these two new potential teammates could be the best in the league.
Now to the Los Angeles Clippers:
A team that has engaged in trade talks with the Wizards earlier in the season, the Clippers have been repeatedly listed as a major contender for the former MVP by numerous major reporters.
This one brings a slightly higher price for the Washington Wizards as both teams would be in need of guard depth in this scenario and that’s something they have in excess. However, they receive a haul of movable contracts who can be flipped rather easily to a contending team for picks and young players.
The 76ers get a two-way star in Paul George and a player who can help distribute the ball and create scoring opportunities off the bench in Monte Morris. This is an intriguing offer for them, even if they need to take on a little more cap space.
The Clippers pick up James Harden to carry the load on offense and also Delon Wright who can be an elite point of attack defender. Both of these players would help take the load off Kawhi Leonard and allow him to preserve his body even in games where he plays.
Either one of these trades would allow the Washington Wizards to greatly benefit from the impending James Harden trade without giving too much up. Both trades seem like winning deals to every team involved.