With Giannis Antetokounmpo deciding to remain with the Milwaukee Bucks by signing the five-year, $228M supermax extension, the primary target for the Miami Heat in 2021 NBA free agency is already off the board. Could this encourage the Heat to push harder to execute a trade with the Houston Rockets for James Harden?
Between additional superstars like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Paul George all getting long-term deals done this offseason, too, it’s clear the 2021 NBA free agency class will be much thinner than originally expected. That’s a problem for a team like the Heat who predicated its offseason on preserving salary cap space to make a major addition.
The best course of action for the Heat would be to take advantage of the situation the Houston Rockets currently face with James Harden. The Rockets do not want to send him within the Western Conference and some of the top teams that could justify a trade for the NBA superstar like the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors aren’t on his preferred list.
The Bucks were among the four teams recently listed by Harden but they have legitimately no reasonable way of pulling off any sort of appealing trade package for the Rockets. The Brooklyn Nets simply lack the necessary assets to get something done. Lastly, the Philadelphia 76ers have what it takes to complete a deal, but aren’t willing to part with Ben Simmons in order to do it. Well, at least for now.
Making an aggressive push to trade for Harden now would give the Heat a potential opportunity to catch the 76ers being asleep at the wheel, so to speak. Philadelphia has to wait and see how their young core plays together with a new head coach in Doc River, as well as with more perimeter shooting in the unit.
If the Miami Heat ends up waiting before trying to get something done, the Philadelphia 76ers could change their stance on including Ben Simmons in a deal. There would be very little the Heat could do in this situation to land James Harden since their potential trade package is considerably inferior in quality. There’s nothing to lose now that Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t be available next NBA offseason.