In a newly published trade idea involving Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden, NBA Analysis Network suggested that the New Orleans Pelicans could acquire the disgruntled superstar for a package featuring guards Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe, as well as multiple young players and future draft picks.
As explained by the publication on Thursday, the Pelicans are a young team that has added several quality players over the past few years. While it may be a “complete shock” if the team ends up with Harden ahead of the March 2021 deadline, the outlet suggested that such a move could greatly speed up the rebuilding process, especially since New Orleans has a number of assets that could greatly interest the Rockets.
In its suggested deal, the site recommended sending Harden and backup guards Ben McLemore and Jae’Sean Tate to the Pelicans for Bledsoe, Ball, second-year reserves Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, two 2021 first-round picks, and a first-round selection each from the 2023 and 2024 drafts. This transaction, as explained, could be just what New Orleans needs to qualify for the postseason as the three-time scoring champion teams up with the club’s young stars.
“With Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have a star core for the future but they are still years away. Harden would create a bit of a big three and give the Pelicans a player with postseason experience.”
So far, Harden has continued to dominate the stat sheet for Houston despite various reports hinting at his unhappiness with the organization and desire to be traded. According to Basketball-Reference, he has averaged 39 points, five rebounds, and 12.5 assists in two games this season, following a year in which he posted averages of 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists and shot 44.4 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three-point range.
Per NBA Analysis Network, the hypothetical trade could benefit Houston as it’s possible that new head coach Stephen Silas will focus less on three-point shooting, while also relying on newly added veterans John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as the new “centerpiece players.” But even if the theoretical deal becomes a reality, the publication predicted that the Rockets “still have a chance” of making the playoffs in 2021.
Although Ball has had several ups and downs since getting picked second overall in the 2017 draft, he remains a frequent trade rumor subject due to his youth and playmaking ability. Bledsoe, meanwhile, offers several years of experience and an ability to contribute on both ends of the floor. Last season, he averaged 14.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game while playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, per Basketball-Reference.