Blazers pre-deadline trade for Harden.
Here's a possible scenario, bringing in Harden.
Short of very creative accounting, which is even then likely to tie up their salary cap in a crippling fashion for years to come leaving them with a very thin bench, I see the Thunder trading Harden before the deadline.
The Blazers are very good candidates as a trading partner.
Now, I love me some Wessy-Wes as much as the next guy, and we've heard Matthews has improved a great deal now that he is healthy. But I still think Harden is a better player to put next to LA and would likely send a message to him that we are serious about contending.
Though there could be other plausible scenarios to acquire Harden, the one I proposed above involves sending Matthews and Freeland (who plays two positions) and landing Harden and detritus in return. The most attractive part for OKC would be to lock up two good players on relatively cheap contracts, though they would be taking in over 2.5 mil more in contracts per year. And they get to dump a multi-year contract on a second-year player who was "wild" and near the bottom of the league as a shooter, according to John Hollinger. And the Blazers could dump him in turn, considering we already have one of those dudes on our roster (looking at you, Nolan).
Harden is an exceptional pick and roll player, deadly at drawing fouls (Hollinger called Harden's ability to get to the line "supernatural"), hits a high percentage at the line, and is an excellent 3pt shooter. This is EXACTLY the type of player that needs to play next to The Omen and with Aldridge, IMO.
Time to weigh in, Blazer Nation. What do you think? If not Harden, do you propose any other moves at the deadline to make the team better? (Remember: Think like an Olshey.)
Here's Hollinger's scouting report on Harden:
Top shooting percentage at the rim, guards
Player Team Pct. James Harden OKC 70.4 Gerald Henderson Cha 68.4 Arron Afflalo Den 68.0 Marcus Thornton Sac 67.5 Kobe Bryant LAL 66.2 Min. 150 attempts