Could the Miami Heat be the best possible landing spot for James Harden?
Following analyst Adrian Wojnarowski’s speculation that James Harden may have joined the Philadelphia 76ers training camp solely to make the front office uncomfortable and force him out of the franchise, Stephen A. Smith feels how significantly the 2018 MVP can contribute to the Miami Heat, who are in desperate need of a third star.
Furthermore, SAS believes Harden’s playmaking ability will be critical for Erik Spoelstra’s team to overcome the final hurdle.
"“There are certain landing spots… I would love to see him in Miami because I think they need someone with his skill set. He led the league in assists last year. We talk about James Harden like he’s not still an All-Star-caliber player. He’s not the three-time scoring champion that he once was. But he is a big-time player,” Smith stated on an episode of First Take. “He’s an All-Star, and he would definitely help them because of his ability to make shots and to play in that system.”"
Harden would be the perfect candidate to fill Miami’s backcourt voids given how successfully he fit into the role of a pass-first ball handler for the Philadelphia 76ers last season, leading the league in assists-per-game while also scoring 21.0 points per game on 38.5 percent shooting from the 3-point line and 86.7 percent from the FT line.
Furthermore, the Heat may benefit from his ability to convert free throws effectively since it relieves Jimmy Butler of the burden of carrying the ball on every possession during clutch time.
Stephen A. Smith on how Miami’s culture can be beneficial for Harden
Though the 55-year-old ESPN personality claimed that he is still a believer in ‘The Beard’s’ abilities on the court, Smith undoubtedly believes that James can benefit immensely from Miami’s organizational culture, which encourages all of its players to develop an appetite for winning on the court while also preventing them from having unneeded freedom to engage in controversial shenanigans.
"“I actually think he needs Miami. He really, really does,” Smith concluded. “That level of structure with an organization that he respects, that you can’t get away with some of the shenanigans that he’s engaged in. And I say that respectfully because I am a fan of James Harden as a person and a player.”"
LA Clippers are the only team pursuing Harden’s saga in Philly
Woj has discussed how, despite Harden’s desire to leave Philadelphia, the Sixers’ front office and general manager Daryl Morey aren’t receiving trade proposals that would provide them with enough assets to compete for the Larry O’Brien trophy in exchange for the 10-time All-Star. Miami does appear to be in dire need of a point guard, but the only team that can make a move for the three-time scoring champion is the LA Clippers.
However, the Western Conference giants have the leverage to play the waiting game, though, as they have a set team in place already.
"“There’s not a trade out there that keeps the Sixers in championship contention this season,” Woj stated. “The same time, the Clippers aren’t in a position to gut all their assets for the future … They also know, ‘We don’t want to bid against ourselves. The Sixers don’t have anything else.'”"