December 9, 2020
NBA Rumors: Knicks Could Get James Harden For RJ Barrett, Julius Randle & Draft Picks, Per 'Bleacher Report'

Although James Harden has just reported to the Houston Rockets' training camp after failing to show up for a few days, trade rumors have continued to surround the former NBA MVP. Most of them have centered on potential moves to the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, but as Bleacher Report suggested on Wednesday, the New York Knicks might have the assets to convince the Rockets to part ways with the disgruntled shooting guard.

As proposed by the publication, the Knicks could acquire Harden for R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle, first-round picks in the 2021, 2023, and 2025 drafts, and two future second-rounders. The plausibility of such a deal, Bleacher Report added, would depend on how one perceives Barrett following his rookie season in 2019-20, where he was "historically inefficient" despite producing solid numbers.

"The theoretical version of Barrett is exactly what teams are after these days: a multipositional player who can hit open shots and create a little bit for others. That reality appears a long way off, though. So, the Rockets would almost certainly need a massive haul of picks from the New York Knicks to make this one tenable."

James Harden of the Houston Rockets is defended by Tim Hardaway Jr., then with the New York Knicks.
Getty Images | Elsa

While the outlet did not go into detail on how the hypothetical transaction could help both teams, Harden is coming off a season where he won his third straight scoring title. According to his Basketball-Reference player page, the 31-year-old averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists for the Rockets in the 2019-20 campaign while also sinking 44.4 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Meanwhile, the Knicks used Barrett as their starter at the two-guard position in 2019-20, where he averaged 14.3 points, five rebounds, and 2.6 assists but shot a subpar 40.5 percent from the field and 32 percent from three-point range, per the team's Basketball-Reference page. Randle was the club's starting forward in his first season in New York, posting averages of 19.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game.

Assuming the aforementioned package wouldn't be enough to convince Houston to part ways with Harden, Bleacher Report recommended including center Mitchell Robinson in the offer, though stressed that doing so would leave the eight-time All-Star with quite an unimpressive supporting cast. The site added that if Robinson remains in New York, he and Harden could form an effective pick-and-roll combo as they serve as the organization's centerpieces.

Despite the interesting implications of such a trade if it becomes a reality, the outlet concluded its entry on the Knicks by warning that it might only become an option for the Rockets if there aren't too many other teams making "aggressive" offers for Harden.