James Harden trade: 8 players the Houston Rockets could get

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket defended by Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets players to target in James Harden trade: 5. Jamal Murray

The Denver Nuggets have reportedly emerged as a potential landing spot for Harden, and it’s been rumored that they are seeking to add Harden to the Nuggets’ current duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. But there are legitimate questions regarding whether Harden and Murray could co-exist, as both players are ball dominant scorers who thrive most with the ball in their hands.

For this reason, it wouldn’t make sense for the Nuggets to pair Harden with Murray, as both players do many of the same things and play the same position. Harden and Murray are two of the best scorers in the league and both need their shots in order to contribute offensively.

The Rockets would be wise to ask for Murray from the Nuggets, as he’s only 23-years-old and is a rising star, especially on the offensive end. Murray put on a display in the 2020 NBA playoffs, as he averaged 26.5 points and 6.6 assists, while making 45.3 percent of his threes and posting true shooting splits of 62.6 percent.

Murray’s scoring numbers have improved through each of his first five seasons, as outlined below:

  • 2016-17: 9.9 points per game
  • 2017-18: 16.7 points per game
  • 2018-19: 18.2 points per game
  • 2019-20: 18.5 points per game
  • 2020-21: 21 points per game

Murray is a career 36 percent shooter from long-range and has made 39.6 percent of his threes in 2020-21, which is also a career-best. Although Murray isn’t nearly the defender that Harden is at this stage of his career, he has more upside, due to his continued growth and development and his age.

But perhaps one of the more appealing things about Murray is his contract situation, as he’s under contract through 2025, thanks to a five-year deal he signed in 2019 worth up to $158 million, which doesn’t include a player option.

The Houston Rockets would likely have to sell the Nuggets on moving Murray, as they likely want to pair up Harden and Murray, but such a move would stifle both players’ games offensively.

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