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James Harden Expands Preferred Trade Destinations List But a Deal Is Nowhere in Sight

Ryan Phillips
James Harden, Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets - Game Four
James Harden, Los Angeles Lakers v Houston Rockets - Game Four / Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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James Harden wants out of Houston and he has continued to push the Rockets to trade him. With movement on a potential deal stalled, the 31-year-old All-Star has now expanded his list of preferred destinations. The Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers have now been added.

Initially, Harden only wanted to be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers, then added the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks to his list soon after. The Rockets have struggled to find an amenable deal around the NBA and it's beginning to seem like they're in no rush to move their superstar.

The Celtics are an interesting option. If Boston was really desperate to add a player like Harden -- and there's no evidence the team is -- it could be worked out salary-wise. A swap of Harden and P.J. Tucker for Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart would work financially, though I'm not sure either team is interested in such a deal.

Portland could package C.J. McCollum and Zach Collins for Harden but, again, that deal doesn't make much sense for the franchise. Damian Lillard runs the team and McCollum plays off of him. It's an excellent pairing, and Harden would likely be too ball-centric to work with Lillard.

The deal that still makes the most sense would be between the Sixers and the Rockets. The potential trade would principally be centered around Harden and Ben Simmons, with Philadelphia throwing in another player (Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, etc.) and draft capital. It's a deal that's ready to be made whenever both sides finally come to their senses and pull the trigger.

Harden continues to expand his list of potential destinations while also getting fined for violating the league's COVID-19 protocols. His actions over the past few weeks have made it clear he wants out of Houston but they have also damaged his trade value. The Rockets aren't going to be forced into giving him away for less what he's worth.

Ironically, the best thing Harden can do if he wants out of town is to show up and play at a high level. Even then, it might take a while for a deal to come about.

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