James Harden as a Trail Blazer? Here's why it's a great idea... and why it isn't so great
James Harden as a pioneer? Here's why it's a great idea ... and why it didn't originally appear on NBC Sports Northwest
James Harden as a Portland Trail Blazer?
I've been thinking about it all afternoon after hearing the Trail Blazers are on the list of teams Harden would accept in a trade. I was trying to understand the implications of a deal that would bring him to Portland.
I'm not going to go into what kind of package the Trail Blazers would need to make such a deal. I don't think that really has much to do with the big question: how would he fit in Portland? And is it worth trying?
First the positives:
Harden is one of the most efficient offensive players of all time. He's the prototypical New Age statistical darling. He does tough threesomes and can get to the basket. He can get his own shot. He can play long minutes. And if he wants to be, he is a very good passerby.
He is under contract for the 2022-23 season.
He's a full-fledged monster and superstar, a six-time All-NBA first-team player who was once an MVP. He has led the league four times and traditionally leads it in three-point field goal attempts. And also made and tried in free throws
He is a unique player who can hardly be guarded by just one player.
And now the negatives:
He has not excelled in his attempts to get out of Houston - he reports to camp late and is reportedly out of shape after being caught in a club without a mask.
He was apparently tough on teammates. It doesn't seem like Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul enjoyed the Harden experience.
In the past few seasons, its sales have almost reached its templates.
He's not known as a solid defender. Or even close to it.
He needs the ball very much in his hands - his usage rate is very high. Would you like to see the ball in Damian Lillard's hands less often?
Would Lillard, whose personality and game seem at odds with Hardens, be able to coexist with him?
Could Harden cope with the slow Portland life? If not, would this be a short term on this team?
I think the first thing that has to happen is that Lillard has to log out when Harden comes on board. If this is the case, I am fine.
Harden is an incredibly talented player and possibly Portland's greatest chance yet to attract a true superstar to play alongside Lillard.
And that offensive talent - Hall of Fame worthy - is hard to resist. In a purely basketball sense, the deal is a breeze for Portland, a franchise that may never be able to sign or sign such an enormously talented free agent as Harden.
General Manager Neil Olshey has known Harden since school. There is a steady relationship there. And I would expect the Trail Blazers to be interested if a deal can be worked out.
The price in Houston is supposed to be high, but you would expect it. They would give up their only franchisee. And the missiles have leverage because they don't have to trade him - they have his rights for the next season too.
But when I'm the Trail Blazer, I talk to the Rockets.
A combination of Harden and Lillard with a solid group of role players would make a very competitive team.
And it would be a very big roll of the dice, which would be a great experiment like nothing this franchise has seen before.
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