Now, the Celtics and Trail Blazers.
Sources told The Athletic that the Houston Rockets guard has recently deemed the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers among his preferred destinations.
With two seasons remaining on his contract before he can enter free agency, Harden has limited leverage to pick where he gets traded.
But he has some influence. Teams that believe he’d stay beyond 2022 are incentivized to send Houston more (though he reportedly even viewed Brooklyn – his top choice – as a two-year stop, not necessarily longer). Likewise, teams that believe Harden would leave in 2022 should offer Houston less.
The Rockets reportedly want a young rising star and draft picks.
Boston could offer Jaylen Brown as the centerpiece. The Celtics have all their own future first-round picks and several recently picked first-rounders. But does Boston want to add Harden and everything he brings?
The Trail Blazers have a tougher path to making a suitable offer. C.J. McCollum is older than ideal. Zach Collins and Gary Trent Jr. aren’t good enough to qualify as future stars. Portland already owes the Rockets a first-round pick that’s lottery-protected over the next seven years, though those protections could always be reduced or eliminated in a Harden trade.