2. James Harden could be an ideal buy-low trade target
Although Jrue may be the conventional trade option on everyone’s mind at the moment, it shouldn’t be forgotten that James Harden is still actively looking for a new home. Harden did specify the Clippers as his preferred destination, but after what we just saw transpire with Lillard, he should know that he’s not guaranteed the freedom of choice until he hits free agency.
Speaking of free agency, that factor may be just enough to bring Harden’s trade value down low enough to justify a big move. Philadelphia isn’t going to get anything big in return for a player who’s seen as a high-flight risk, so they’ll have to make peace with that fact sooner rather than later. Of course, the 76ers won’t just give up their star player for peanuts, but there might still be a workaround here that pleases everyone.
The Bulls could still strike big on the trade block by moving for James Harden.
If the Bulls miss out on trading for Holiday directly, they could potentially be even better off by converting this into a three-team trade. In this scenario, Philadelphia would land a two-way star in Holiday to hold down the backcourt alongside Maxey, Chicago would finally get a strong playmaker and shot-creator at the point with Harden, and Portland would take Alex Caruso, Dalen Terry, Lonzo Ball, and future draft assets (including their own pick in 2024 back).
Everyone wins here. The 76ers get good value for a malcontent star on an expiring deal, while opening up space for Maxey to thrive. The Trail Blazers receive another two draft picks on top of their haul for Lillard, a veteran who could easily be traded for more draft capital, and an interesting young piece to add to their core. This would be an inherently risky move for the Bulls, but it’s one with enough upside that they might just chance it to see what this core can actually accomplish together.