3. New Orleans Pelicans
There’s going to be a few franchises out there who silently contemplate a Harden deal, and I wonder if the Pelicans would be one of them. After all, this is one franchise that could use a shakeup in order to maximize its roster potential.
New Orleans fizzled after a hot start to the 2022-23 campaign, finishing No. 10 in the west and losing its first Play-In Tournament game. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram give the Pens two star building blocks, though the former’s health struggles since entering the league present a major hurdle in the way of contention.
By adding Harden, David Griffin would form an intimidating trio with dominant talents at guard, on the wing, and in the paint. The seven-time All-NBA honoree is the exact kind of player that can lead the offense, especially if Williamson or Ingram (the latter of whom played just 45 games last season) is out for any reason.
Harden also presents a legit upgrade at guard over C.J. McCollum, which is essential if the team is to compete in a loaded conference. Meanwhile, McCollum could be the kind of win-now piece that headlines a package, sending a crafty scorer to Philly that would complement Embiid well. Morey’s also targeted McCollum in the past, so the GM is certainly a fan of the guard’s game.
Though there’s plenty of risk involved, this is the kind of all-in move New Orleans should consider to elevate its intriguing core.
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