The James Harden situation persists, as training camps open. Can the Utah Jazz benefit from facilitating a deal?
Most NBA teams prefer to have rosters intact by media day – which was October 2nd. However, one big story remains – where James Harden will play in 2023-24.
For Philadelphia, media day came and went, and James Harden has yet to report, which makes the situation even more awkward than it already was. While rumors persist that he will report, others indicate he hasn’t relented in his trade demands and is still upset with the Sixers’ management for not moving him sooner.
Earlier in the summer, the Utah Jazz were rumored to be in the background as a willing third team to help facilitate several of the big-name deals that were being discussed across the NBA. While none of those came to fruition, it’s still likely that Danny Ainge has moves up his sleeve, especially when he holds the cards (lots of first-round draft picks and expiring contracts for players).
Could the Utah Jazz take advantage of the current situation in Philadelphia, and get some assets by helping to facilitate a James Harden deal to another team?
If the LA Clippers are still interested in Harden, a 3-way trade involving the Jazz might look like this:
Philadelphia 76ers receive: Collin Sexton, Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, and an unprotected 1st rounder (2029) from the LA Clippers as well as a 1st round pick from Cleveland or Minnesota, via Utah.
Utah Jazz receive: Nic Batum, Robert Covington, Terance Mann, and the option to swap 2029 1st-round picks with Philadelphia.
LA Clippers receive: James Harden
There are other variations of the trade that work, but primarily the Jazz give up players on expiring deals, get a few back (that they could keep or waive), and get some young talent and a draft asset for their trouble.
During the 2022-23 season, the Utah Jazz were involved in a similar trade – getting a 2027 first-round pick from the LA Lakers for their efforts in facilitating the Russell Westbrook deal.
The cunning, devious side of the trade? If James Harden doesn’t work out for the Clippers and that team is dismantled next summer (Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both have opt-outs in 2024, and Harden is on an expiring deal), it’s one less contending team that the Utah Jazz would have to deal with in the Western Conference.