James Harden is under fire right now after failing to live up to expectations against the Miami Heat. Following a terrific start with the Philadelphia 76ers, the former NBA MVP has slowed down, unable to help his team that is playing without Joel Embiid right now.
Even though Joel could return to the lineup in Game 3 of this second-round series, Harden is the player raising concerns right now. The shooting guard is a shell of himself right now, earning a lot of criticism in recent games.
This could open the door for a Harden exit from Philadelphia, and according to Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report, the Heat could be the player's new home next season. They listed a series of surprising landing spots for free agents, and besides Kyrie Irving joining the Clippers, Harden was placed in South Beach.
Back in October 2020 when Harden was still a member of the Houston Rockets, there were three teams he had interest in joining.
While he's since been traded to two of them (the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers), Harden also spoke to his inner circle about the Miami Heat, according to Bleacher Report's Farbod Esnaashari. Heat star Jimmy Butler had even approved a potential trade at the time.
As unlikely as it is that Harden leaves Philly now, Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East, should still be on the table.
This scenario likely only comes to fruition if the Sixers don't want to give Harden a full five-year max deal, especially with Joel Embiid's four-year, $196 million supermax extension kicking in by 2023-24. Tyrese Maxey is heading toward his own massive payday while Tobias Harris still has two years and roughly $77 million left on his deal.
A sign-and-trade would prove costly for Miami, however. Such a deal would likely have to include the contracts of Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, with Philly understandably asking for sweetener (Tyler Herro?) as well.
That may be too much even for a star-driven franchise like the Heat, especially with Harden showing signs of slowing down now at age 32.
Philly is likely to remain Harden's home for the foreseeable future, although Miami is a dark-horse destination should financial issues arise.
Miami is a well-rounded team. They took things to the next level this season, becoming the best team in the East. Adding Harden doesn't look like will add a lot to them, but we could see him joining a team that can help him win the NBA championship in the future.
At 32, Harden is slowing down and many believe the Sixers lost the trade with the Brooklyn Nets. This offseason will be big for the player and the franchise, but it seems like the Beard is staying put in Philly.