The Nuggets are reportedly not interested in trading for James Harden if it means parting ways with Michael Porter Jr.
James Harden reportedly wants a trade away from the Houston Rockets, and the team is calling around hoping for a trade partner. The Denver Nuggets are one team that has popped up recently in the rumors.
The Nuggets already have a solid core led by both Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. They aren’t going anywhere. A Denver Post report from Mike Singer explained how the Rockets would seek Michael Porter Jr. in a deal for Harden. The Nuggets are reportedly not interested if that is a stipulation.
Nuggets not interested in trading Porter for Harden
One notable thing is that this isn’t a proposed swap of Porter for Harden. The salaries are tens of millions of dollars apart, so Singer mentioned Gary Harris and Will Barton as potential players who would head to Houston in such a trade.
Harden is set to earn over $41 million this season before getting $44.3 million in 2021-22. He then has a $47.3 million player option in 2022-23, so he would not necessarily be a rental for whatever team trades for him.
There are glaring pros and cons to making a trade for Harden. The pros center around the fact he is an elite player who could form a terrific Big 3 alongside Murray and Jokic. The con? Who knows how he would fit, and the Nuggets would send away several key players in the process.
Some fans may have flipped out if the Nuggets were solely refusing a swap of Porter for Harden. After all, the young forward only averaged 16.4 minutes per game last season after sitting out the entire 2018-19 season.
Denver made it to the Western Conference Finals earlier this year and was in the conference semifinals back in 2019. Murray looks like a legitimate franchise player and Jokic is his usual self. At this point in time, Harden is obviously a much better third piece than the young Porter to form a superstar trio.
But the Nuggets may not want the hassle of putting too much reliance on the disgruntled Rockets star. Perhaps they fear the same issues in Houston could show up in Denver and ruin a team on the rise. Or maybe they truly believe Porter can be an All-Star soon — even if his ceiling is nowhere near Harden’s, that on top of the potential chemistry issues could be enough to blow up a deal. Whatever the case may be, the Nuggets may have already taken themselves out of the Harden sweepstakes.