How NBA Title Odds Would Shift Based On James Harden’s Trade Destination

How NBA Title Odds Would Shift Based On James Harden’s Trade Destination article feature image
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden.

Another layer was added to the James Harden saga on Thursday when he reportedly put Eastern Conference contenders Milwaukee and Miami on his list of preferred trade destinations.

The Houston Rockets star now has four Eastern Conference teams on his list, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic: Milwaukee, Miami, Philadelphia and Brooklyn.

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Each presents appealing options for the former MVP, who averaged 34.3 points per game last season.

Milwaukee has back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Miami is the reigning Eastern Conference champion featuring a core of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. He’d be joining former teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. Former Rockets GM Daryl Morey is running basketball operations for the 76ers and could build a similar product Harden is accustomed to.

Predicting the futures market for a potential Harden trade can be tricky without knowing what a return looks like. Finding a return that makes sense for both sides when an in-his-prime MVP is on the table isn’t easy.

It’s probable Harden doesn’t go anywhere with the start of the season just 12 days away.

DraftKings has Houston as the favorite for Harden’s team on opening night.

Where will James Harden start the season?

– Rockets (-152)
– Nets (+125)
– 76ers (+350)
– Heat (+1400)
– Bucks (+2000)

(CO/IL Only) pic.twitter.com/FQC38pUz2S

— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) December 10, 2020

If he does start the season in Houston, the Rockets are obviously a much better team, and available at 70-1 at FanDuel. Harden would be part of a roster with new additions John Wall (trade), DeMarcus Cousins (signing) and Christian Wood (signing), and mainstays Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker.

If Harden is moved, DK pegs the Nets as the favorite to land him. In Charania’s report, Houston wants Durant and Irving in a trade for Harden, but that’s what any team should say when holding a star like him. It’s more likely a deal would involve Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie and draft picks.

At +600 to win the title, PointsBet has already factored the Harden possibility into futures odds.

“In our eyes, the Heat and Bucks probably don’t have the assets needed to pull off a trade,” PointsBet Director of Communications Pat Eichner told The Action Network. “The only team that has a potential Harden acquisition baked into [its] futures price is Brooklyn, as they are most likely the favorite to land him. On the others, we will adjust as the final news comes through.”

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The Sixers are an interesting fit and No. 3 on DraftKings’ oddsboard for Harden suitors.

While Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta probably doesn’t want to send Harden to Morey, the best reasonable trade piece in return is Ben Simmons. Philadelphia would break up the clunky fit of Simmons and Joel Embiid and Houston would add another star talent to build around.

Philadelphia is 24-1 at FanDuel and 20-1 elsewhere in the market. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that number shorten into at least the teens if Harden heads to Philadelphia.

The Heat have Tyler Herro, among other assets to dangle, and Pat Riley is used to big-game hunting. If he doesn’t feel like Antetokounmpo is a realistic option in 2021 free agency, Riley may take his shot with Harden. Miami is between 15- and 20-1 to win the title, depending on the book.

If Milwaukee were to acquire Harden it’s hard to see a huge adjustment from the current price because the price is already short.

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