NBA Rumors: Bulls Could Acquire James Harden For Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. & Draft Picks

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 10, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Michael Reaves / Getty Images

Since the Houston Rockets parted ways with Mike D’Antoni, rumors have started to swirl around All-Star shooting guard James Harden and his future with the team. With D’Antoni no longer in Space City, there is speculation that Harden may also consider finding his way out and starting a new journey somewhere else. Once he becomes officially available on the trading block, several teams are expected to express a strong interest in adding Harden to their roster this fall, including the Chicago Bulls.

With their goal to end their three-year playoff drought next year, it would really make a lot of sense for the Bulls to target a player of Harden’s caliber in the 2020 offseason. However, bringing “The Beard” to Windy City won’t be cheap and would likely require the Bulls to pay the king’s ransom. According to Andrew Miller of Fansided’s Pippen Ain’t Easy, the Bulls could offer a trade package that includes Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr., and multiple future draft picks to the Rockets in exchange for Harden and Eric Gordon.

“What the Bulls toss into the trade deal here is their fourth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, along with one unprotected future first and one lottery protected future first. That is a lot to give up, but it’s not going to be easy to get Harden to Chicago. They also send shooting guard Zach LaVine, power forward Lauri Markkanen, and small forward Otto Porter Jr. to Houston.”

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives the ball against Rajon Rondo #9 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 06, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
  Douglas P. DeFelice / Getty Images

If Harden is determined to leave Houston, accepting the Bulls’ suggested offer isn’t bad at all for the Rockets. It would enable them to acquire assets that would be very valuable to their future and three quality players that would allow them to build a competitive roster around Russell Westbrook. Though none of them is as good as Harden, LaVine, Markkanen, and Porter Jr. are all reliable contributors on both ends of the floor.

LaVine could serve as Westbrook’s new backcourt partner next season. With Harden gone, Westbrook could become the main scoring option while LaVine gets to serve as the second fiddle. Porter Jr. would be giving the Rockets much-needed depth in the wing and Markkanen would provide Houston with a quality big man who is capable of knocking down shots from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, acquiring Harden may not be enough to make the Bulls an instant title contender in the Eastern Conference, but it would give them a realistic chance of returning to the playoffs next year. If they establish an impressive performance in the 2020-21 NBA season, the Bulls could become an attractive destination for superstar free agents in the summer of 2021.