Rockets: 4 trades for James Harden from the Portland Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles past James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
CJ McCollum #3 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles past James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets dribbles against Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

4. Rockets receive Damian Lillard for Harden

The best trade that the Blazers could offer the Rockets would simply be a swap for Damian Lillard, as he fits the criteria of a franchise cornerstone, which is what the Rockets want for Harden. Although Lillard isn’t exactly young anymore, as he turned 30 this past summer, he’s easily a top-10 talent and is arguably just as good as Harden on the offensive end.

Lillard has finished no lower than sixth in scoring in each of the last five seasons, and was second in total points during the 2019-20 season, behind only Harden. To that point, the 2019-20 season was a career year of sorts for the Weber State product, as he made 40.1 percent of his 3-point attempts on 10.2 attempts per game, while also averaging eight assists and 30 points per game, which were all career-highs.

Lillard also posted a true shooting percentage of 62.7 percent and had a Player Efficiency Rating of 26.9 last season, which were also career-bests, in addition to averaging 10.9 offensive win shares, which led the entire league. Lillard has developed a reputation for being one of the most lethal closers in the league, which Rockets fans know all too well, as he ended the Rockets’ 2013-14 season with a walk-off 3-pointer.

The reason why this trade is the lowest on our list is because it would seem like the Blazers would want to pair Lillard with Harden, and it would seem like Harden’s desire to join the Blazers is derived by Lillard himself, as the Blazers haven’t had nearly the amount of success as the Rockets have since Harden’s arrival to Houston in 2012. To make this deal work, the Blazers would also have to add an additional player from a financial perspective, which would likely be Nassir Little, who makes $2.2 million.

Lillard would play well alongside a pure point guard like John Wall, as he made 40.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot treys last season, in addition to 38.9 percent in 2018-19. Although Lillard presents the best star return from the Blazers, we shouldn’t expect this deal to take place.

Next: No. 3