2. Miami Heat
Pat Riley isn’t afraid to take a big swing, which means the Heat can’t be ruled out as a possible Harden trade partner.
Miami has a clear need for a second offensive-minded superstar to alleviate the pressure on Jimmy Butler’s shoulders. This lack of a true No. 2 who can handle and create shots (for himself or others) will always cap this squad’s ceiling, despite the team making several deep playoff runs recently.
That’s why the Heat have been connected to Damian Lillard this offseason, who would make Miami one of the league’s favorites to win the Finals in 2023-24. However, progress on a Lillard deal has come to screeching halt as the Heat’s trade package isn’t worthy of landing a top-15 player.
If Riley does strike out on Lillard, he’s going to pivot quickly. Miami needs a star guard, and Harden is the obvious pivot option.
Coming off of a 2022-23 campaign that saw The Beard put up 21 points and a league-leading 10.7 assists per game, Harden’s potential impact on the Heat’s offense is obvious. Though the three-time scoring leader isn’t as explosive as he once was, he’d still instantly become this squad’s second-best option when they need a bucket. Pairing a legit shooting threat like Harden with the more close-range focused Butler also makes all the sense in the world.
While Miami doesn’t have a Lillard-worthy package, it’d likely be enough to land Harden, especially if Philly wants him out of town as soon as possible. Acquiring a couple first- and second-picks, alongside a young contributor with upside like Nikola Jokic or Jaime Jaquez Jr., would provide the Sixers with even more capital to pursue a deal for another difference-maker.