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Windhorst: Harden Trade Could Shake Up NBA’s ‘Bloated Middle Class’

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ESPN’s Brian Windhorst detailed how a James Harden trade could change the fortunes of the Trail Blazers and the rest of the teams just outside of contender status.

2020 NBA Restart - All Access Practice Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images

James Harden’s status with the Rockets has captured the attention and imagination of the NBA community for the past several weeks. The former Arizona State star reportedly wants out of Houston and he has included the Trail Blazers on a list of multiple teams that he would prefer to go land with.

On Thursday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst detailed the current Harden situation and how it parallels the Raptors’ decision to acquire Kawhi Leonard. Windhorst explained that a potential Harden trade could significantly alter the NBA’s title landscape.

At the moment, the NBA has a bloated middle class. There is a large group of teams, maybe as many as a dozen, that are on the edge of contention. They have a star or two. They have a path maybe to reach the second round of the playoffs or maybe even the conference finals, if things fall just right. They are good; they are not great.

This is where James Harden comes in, and why his future could shape how this NBA season plays out.

After listing the teams in the Eastern Conference that could be interested in Harden, Windhorst touched on the Trail Blazers and the rest of the Western Conference.

Of course, the West has similar stories. The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers might see themselves at the top of the contender list, but there are teams around them that have been dancing on the Harden periphery. The Portland Trail Blazers reportedly are monitoring, and so are the Nuggets, who have interest in getting involved in a deal even if they don’t end up with Harden, sources said. There could be more if the situation plays out a little.

Harden, who entered the 2020-21 season at 31 years old, won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player of the Year award in 2018. Last season, Harden led the league in scoring with 34.3 points per game.

You can read the full story from Windhorst at ESPN.