The Toronto Raptors are one of at least five teams that have reportedly contacted the Houston Rockets about potentially acquiring superstar James Harden, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
The news should come as no surprise. The Raptors have one of the best front offices in the NBA and reaching out to make at least a “courtesy call” about one of the truly elite players in the league should be a formality for every team.
If you don’t call, you’ll never know.
The actual viability of a trade to the Raptors still seems unlikely. The 31-year-old Harden has reportedly made a list of teams he’d like to be traded to and the Raptors have not been mentioned as one of those teams. Whether or not he actually has a say will largely be up to the Rockets front office, but considering Harden can opt-out in 2022, any team he’s unwilling to sign with might be reluctant to give Houston all their most valuable assets. in a deal
All that being said, Harden would be an immediate game changer for the Raptors. He’s a one-man offence who create buckets in seemingly any situation. Last season he averaged 14.1 isolation attempts per game — the most in the league by almost double — and he averaged 1.12 points per isolation possession, an astonishing rate considering his usage. This season he’s taken his game to another level, averaging 1.91 points per isolation possession, the most in the NBA, albeit in a small sample size. Considering how much the Raptors have struggled to score in the half-court over the past two seasons, adding Harden would immediately revolutionize their offence.
Considering Toronto’s 0-3 start, it seems unlikely for the Raptors to pivot and go-all in to acquire Harden. It would likely require moving Pascal Siakam who has struggled early this season but is still a relatively young controllable piece Toronto might want to keep around for the future. It makes sense that the Raptors made a call, but an actual trade for Harden still seems far fetched.