After plans to acquire Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency fell through, the Toronto Raptors are reportedly interested in trading for James Harden of the Houston Rockets. How can such a scenario pan out for both teams?
As has been widely reported in the media, James Harden is probably going to get traded from the Houston Rockets, after what seems to have been a falling out with the team management. Some possible trade destinations have popped up, and notably, the Toronto Raptors have been in some of these trade talks and rumors to acquire Harden. So what would a James Harden to Toronto trade look like for both sides?
The Houston Rockets have reportedly been asking for a very good, young player to build their team around and Pascal Siakam would make an excellent upgrade for this team over PJ Tucker.
The Raptors would be trading away one of their top defenders in exchange for pure scoring talent which they seemed to need after the preseason. Norman Powell had a great season last year but was inconsistent during the preseason.
However, this trade has its issues. The raptors would be very weak at the power forward position, and would hypothetically have to start a small-ball lineup with OG Anunoby at the 4, where he is inexperienced. OG is a great defender, but he may have some trouble guarding some of the power forwards in the Eastern Conference such as Giannis Antetokounmpo.
This is a very intriguing trade for both teams. While Fred VanVleet would need to get moved, his spot would be filled by arguably the best shooting guard in the league. As well, DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins would be a more consistent option as the backup center to Aron Baynes and can add a bit of a scoring punch from the frontcourt. PJ Tucker making his return to Toronto would allow the Raptors to have a solid backup for OG Anunoby and can be an extremely reliable veteran off of the Raptors bench.
Siakam would need to be included in this deal, as either his or Kyle Lowry would need to be included in order to make the salaries work, and the Rockets are specifically looking for a younger player to build around. With this trade, the Raptors would not be losing as much on the defensive end, as PJ Tucker is a great both on-ball and off-ball defender. The team would also get an additional scoring punch with Demarcus Cousins coming off the bench instead of Alex Len.
With this one, I decided to go for a trade I don’t think the Raptors would do because it would sacrifice a lot of depth, but I think it is an interesting one for both teams. The Houston Rockets get not one, but two intriguing young players in Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell. Both players are currently entering their prime, and the Rockets could build around Siakam while using Norman Powell as an excellent complementary piece to build a long-lasting team.
For the Toronto Raptors, while Christian Wood is not exactly an upgrade over Pascal Siakam, the team would become deeper. A starting six of Kyle Lowry, James Harden, OG Anunoby, Christian Wood, and Aron Baynes is a very flexible lineup. Fred VanVleet would instantly become a 6th man of the year candidate, and the team would obtain some really strong versatility by being able to run Christian Wood at the 4 and the 5.
Nick Nurse is a coach who thinks outside of the box, and with players like Wood, VanVleet, and OG who can change positions on the fly, Nurse would be able to put together a 3rd really strong season as head coach of the Toronto Raptors.