3-Team James Harden Blockbuster Trade Idea Would Send Damian Lillard to Sixers

James Harden Damian Lillard

Getty Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (left).

A three-team blockbuster trade proposal involving James Harden being sent to a third team, the Philadelphia 76ers acquiring Damian Lillard, and the Portland Trail Blazers acquiring other assets was proposed by The Sixers Sense’s Nicholas Kyle Pring — who sees the Sixers as a much preferable landing spot to the Lillard’s preferred landing spot, the Miami Heat.

“(Because) the 76ers can offer a more appealing package to the Trail Blazers for Damian Lillard, especially via a three-way trade involving Harden — Philadelphia should be a more attractive landing spot,” Pring wrote. “Hopefully, the superstar guard can grow amenable to the prospect of landing with the franchise and a deal eventually transpires.”

Pring sees the playing style Philadelphia plays with, one surely to feature adjustments with new head coach Nick Nurse, as a better fit for Lillard than Miami; which features an “egalitarian” approach.

“The 76ers’ play style also present a more seamless integration for Lillard,” Pring prefaced before writing, “Philly’s offense is built on the dynamics between Embiid and an efficient, ball dominant guard. Harden — the facilitator-first variant — was rock solid next to the MVP, but has often faced backlash for being overtly passive at times. That shouldn’t be a problem for Lillard who, despite not being as proficient as a playmaker, has still been one of the league’s best in generating dimes in addition to being an unbreakable scorer from literally anywhere.

“In comparison, Miami’s offense under Erik Spoelstra — notwithstanding personnel — has always had an egalitarian sheen to it which made natural table-setters like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo flourish. While definitely effective, it’s not the best on-court design for Lillard, who was in the 90.9 percentile in efficiency in isolation situations last season.”

Damian Lillard Formed Bond With Heat Star at Olympics

As is often the case when the NBA’s biggest stars team up for Team USA every four years for the Olympics and in the various FIBA events in between, some of the game’s biggest stars formed bonds in 2021 for the Tokyo Olympics. That included Lillard and Heat star Bam Adebayo. The former, as the AP’s Tim Reynolds reported, has his mind set on Miami because of that friendship.

“He’s made up his mind, this is what he wants,” Reynolds said on “Saturday Sports World with Marc Stein.” “There’s a billion reasons why. The connection he had with Bam Adebayo I think is a really understated story right now in this whole deal. They connected incredibly at the Tokyo Olympics. You could see bonds being formed. They’ve stayed close.”

This wouldn’t be the first time the Heat have benefitted from friendships made at the Olympics. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh laid the foundation for the “Big Three” era Miami teams during the 2008 Olympics.

James Harden Trade Talks Have Sixers Shopping Teammate

Harden’s fluid trade situation has the Sixers shopping his long-time teammate in Philadelphia and with the Houston Rockets before that, combo-forward PJ Tucker, according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto.

“PJ Tucker, Harden’s longtime teammate with the Rockets and Sixers, has come up in trade discussions between the 76ers and Clippers, league sources told HoopsHype,” Scotto wrote. “The Clippers covet Tucker’s ability to guard multiple positions and defend the league’s top opposing scorers. Tucker is owed $11 million this upcoming year and has a $11.54 million player option for the 2024-25 season.”

As the Harden trade talks continue, it’s possible we may see more Sixers find their names in their own trade rumors as well.