Two weeks into the 2020-21 NBA season, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report has created a list of trades that every team could make. For the Portland Trail Blazers, it's a hypothetical blockbuster deal that would allow them to pair Damian Lillard with Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. However, bringing a player of Harden's caliber to Portland comes with a huge price tag.
In a potential trade involving "The Beard," the Rockets have made it known to every interested team that they are seeking a package that includes an All-Star, a young prospect, and future first-round picks. However, even if it would cost the Trail Blazers CJ McCollum, some believe that the team shouldn't think twice before going all-in for Harden. In his article, Buckley explained why it makes a lot of sense for Portland to "sell the farm" for the former MVP.
"A Harden-Damian Lillard backcourt might be the Lillard-McCollum pairing on steroids. The defense might still be disastrous—though Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr. and Jusuf Nurkic would still be around to help stop the bleeding—but the offensive fireworks would be magnificent. Even if it never became more complex than 'your turn, my turn,' defenses would routinely face impossible pick-your-poison decisions."
Trading for Harden would undeniably be a very risky move for the Trail Blazers. If things don't go as expected, it could cause the downfall of their entire franchise. However, it's one of the realistic moves that could dramatically change Portland's fate in the 2020-21 NBA season. It would take some time for Harden to mesh with Lillard on the court, but he's arguably an upgrade over McCollum at the starting shooting guard position.
Compared to McCollum, Harden is a much better scorer and playmaker. Also, he's more capable of stepping up in crucial situations and taking charge of the offense when the opposing team's defense is focused on Lillard. Harden may still be considered a defensive liability, but the Trail Blazers could easily hide one of his major weaknesses by surrounding him with defensive-minded players like Robert Covington, Derrick Jones Jr., and Jusuf Nurkic.
Meanwhile, it's hard to see the Rockets passing on the deal that would give them McCollum in return. McCollum may not be as good as Harden, but if he builds good chemistry with John Wall, Christian Wood, DeMarcus Cousins, and Danuel House Jr., the Rockets would have a chance of making a big impact in the loaded Western Conference this year.