The James Harden blockbuster is coming and the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors are a perfect match to make a deal happen.
The Houston Rockets are off to an uneven start but James Harden has been in his perennial MVP form. The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, have been absolutely abysmal this season at 1-6 and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012-13.
The Raptors have the league’s fourth-worst offensive rating and have paired it with a league-average defense, ranking sixteenth overall in defensive rating. Most championship teams have both a top-ten offense and defense, which means an injection of pure James Harden offense and Nick Nurse righting the ship on defense could see the franchise once again jump into the championship conversation.
There were rumors that the Raptors were preparing to make a pitch to Giannis Antetokounmpo in the summer of 2021 when he was set to hit free agency, but with his extension, those plans went out the door. The only other marquee free agent on the horizon is Kawhi Leonard, who just left Toronto after winning a championship and likely wouldn’t consider a reunion.
If the Raptors want to challenge for a title anytime soon their only option is to make a move for James Harden. Fortunately for the franchise, they have the assets to make a serious offer for the former MVP.
The Rockets are looking for a young All-Star and every last pick that NBA rules allow them to pillage and the Raptors can check both of those boxes. The Raptors would have to blow up their long term plans for a chance to claim another title, but with Kyle Lowry still productive at 34-years-old the time to act is now.
The Rockets were wise to wait to trade Harden as bad starts from presumed playoff teams have given them leverage in trade negotiations. These are three trades that the Raptors could make to land James Harden and, in the process, set the Rockets up for the future.