NBA Trade Rumors: Timberwolves Could Swap D’Angelo Russell For James Harden

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts in the second half during Game Five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Toyota Center on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas.
Tim Warner / Getty Images

Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden is one of the superstars who are expected to be moved to another team before the 2021 trade deadline. Despite the strong efforts from the Rockets’ front office to convince him to stay, “The Beard” looked determined to leave and start a new journey somewhere else. One of the dark horse landing spots for Harden this season is the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In a recent article, Greg Patuto of NBA Analysis Network came up with a blockbuster trade idea that would enable the Timberwolves to pair Karl-Anthony Towns with Harden. In the proposed scenario, the Timberwolves would be sending a package that includes D’Angelo Russell, Ricky Rubio, Jarrett Culver, a 2023 first-round pick, a 2025 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick to the Rockets in exchange for Harden, PJ Tucker, and Ben McLemore.

“James Harden would be the big name going to the Minnesota Timberwolves but he could not be alone in the deal. Players like PJ Tucker and Ben McLemore could also help the Timberwolves in regards to their depth. Pulling off a trade for a player of Harden’s caliber would not come cheap for any team working to execute such a deal. The Timberwolves would have no shortage of intriguing assets to be able to get something done.”

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets passes the ball away from Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first quarter in Game Three of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 21, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
  Hannah Foslien / Getty Images

Though it would cost them a plethora of precious trade assets, the suggested blockbuster deal would make a lot of sense for the Timberwolves. The potential arrival of Harden could dramatically change the Timberwolves’ fate in the 2020-21 NBA season. He would give them a very reliable scoring option who could step up and take charge of their offense in crucial situations.

Aside from being a prolific scorer, Harden is also an incredible playmaker and an elite three-point shooter. This season, he’s averaging 26.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 11.0 assists while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN. Bringing Harden to Minnesota would definitely come with a huge risk but if he meshes well with Towns, the Timberwolves would have a realistic chance of making a huge noise in the loaded Western Conference this year.

Meanwhile, accepting the suggested offer would be a no-brainer for the Rockets since it would provide them with everything that they are looking for in any potential deal involving “The Beard.” By sending him to Minnesota, they would be receiving an All-Star caliber player in Russell, a young prospect in Culver, and three future first-round selections.

Rubio isn’t just included in the deal for salary-matching purposes. If the Rockets choose to remain competitive in the post-Harden era, Rubio could serve as a reliable backup for Russell and John Wall.