Although there are several teams that have been mentioned as potential destinations for Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden, a recent article suggested that the Toronto Raptors could be a surprise candidate to acquire the former MVP.
As explained on Thursday by Bleacher Report, the Raptors are an organization that has been “hemorrhaging” key players since they won their first NBA championship in 2019. With a 0-3 record as of this writing, Toronto is off to a slow start, with an offense that has “completely fallen apart” and one star player in Pascal Siakam who has struggled to shoot consistently despite his status as the team’s No. 1 offensive option.
With the Raptors’ current struggles in mind, the publication suggested a deal that would allow them to get Harden for a package featuring Siakam, backup guard Norman Powell, and “draft compensation.” It was also suggested that Toronto could acquire Houston’s starting power forward, P.J. Tucker, who will be entering free agency in the summer of 2021 and is, as rumored, unhappy over not being offered a contract extension.
“That would give Toronto head coach Nick Nurse a few different ways to work his rotation. He could start Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Harden, OG Anunoby and Aron Baynes and then bring Tucker off the bench. He could also insert Tucker into the starting lineup and bring Anunoby off the pine.”
Given this setup, Bleacher Report added that the Raptors would likely be able to run an isolation offense with Harden as the top offensive option, as well as a facilitator for erstwhile starting guards Lowry and VanVleet. The outlet further speculated that the club could run a more “egalitarian” offense whenever Harden is on the bench, with multiple players who could also score when given the chance.
As Harden will be eligible to enter free agency if he opts out of the final year of his contract ahead of the 2022 season, Bleacher Report warned that the Raptors might lose him in a similar fashion to how Kawhi Leonard departed after just one year with the organization.
As for the Rockets, the site predicted that Siakam could be a good fit for the team and someone who could remain with the team for the long term, as his contract runs through the 2023-24 season. At 26 years old, the Cameroonian power forward still qualifies as a young star and could thrive as a secondary scoring option after being “miscast” as the No. 1 guy in Toronto. Powell, meanwhile, could contribute off the bench as an accurate three-point shooter fresh off a season where he averaged 16 points per game and shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc.