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Blazers Playing Key Role in James Harden Trade Swepstakes

James Harden likely won’t be traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, but the team is making an impact in where he ends up.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA world is in shock after it was announced that Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden opted in to his contract with the team and requested a trade.

Harden was expected to opt out and sign a long-term contract with either the 76ers or Houston Rockets, but it appears neither will happen.

Now, teams are interested in trading for Harden. While the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t reported to be one of those teams, their domino with Damian Lillard is affecting his trade market, according to Yahoo! Sports insider Jake Fischer.

Miami has been mentioned by league personnel as another potential Harden suitor, although the Heat’s well-chronicled interest in Damian Lillard seems to outweigh any intrigue with Harden. It remains to be seen if Lillard will become available for trade himself, as the Portland Trail Blazers move forward into their own offseason full of questions.

It appears the Heat is interested in Harden, but prefers Lillard if he were to become available. By holding onto Lillard, it could very well eliminate the Heat as a destination for Harden.

The Blazers have given no indication that Lillard is being traded this offseason. The two sides met Monday and the Blazers “remain committed” to building a contender around Lillard.

A lot will become clear once the Blazers make some moves in free agency to get better, but the Heat is still holding out hope that Dame could head to Miami in a trade. That’s expected to change its entire free agency strategy.