James Harden green-lighted a trade to Portland way back in 2020, but that was due to his friendly relationship with ex-general manager Neil Olshey. The opportunity for Harden to play alongside Damian Lillard would have still been on the table. Not anymore. Instead, the Trail Blazers may be interested in pulling off a deal for the one-time MVP as a way to acquire his expiring contract and then flip it later.
In that scenario, the Sixers would be wise to ask for Keon Johnson in any potential deal. The two-time Tennessee Mr. Basketball is raw and unpolished, yet the upside is there thanks to his defensive prowess (119.3 rating) and an insanely cheap contract ($2.8 million). One problem: Johnson dislocated his right index finger in summer league play. If this is the best player available for Harden, then the Sixers might want to keep him until something better materializes.
4. Keon Johnson, Portland Trail Blazers: No one is quite sure what Portland is doing these days. Damian Lillard requested a trade back in July but there has been no rush to get anything done. Remember, Lillard only wants to play for Miami. Meanwhile, a new report suggests that Harden would be willing to suit up for the Trail Blazers in a proposed four-team deal. The Sixers should ask for Johnson — the No. 21 pick from the 2021 draft — in any package. While his offensive game needs a ton of work — 37.6% from the field and 34.6% on threes — the youngster’s tenacity on the defensive end is drool-worthy.