NBA free agency

Could the Bulls be in running for a James Harden trade?

Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers mutually agreed to find a new destination for the superstar.

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The NBA sphere exploded on Thursday when reports dropped of James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers mutually agreeing to find a new destination for the superstar shooting guard.

Harden opted into his player option for the 2023-24 season worth $35.6 million as part of the agreement.

To add another question to the myriad that faces the Bulls this offseason, one national reporter suggested the Chicago Bulls could be in on the Harden sweepstakes.

"Chicago would be one potential trade partner to keep in mind, as the Bulls have made Zach LaVine available in conversations this offseason, sources said, and could also send an All-Star such as DeMar DeRozan back to Philadelphia. But there will be many avenues the Sixers explore before finalizing a Harden trade," Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer wrote.

Make no mistake, Harden will have plenty of interested parties for his services. Fischer reports Harden and the Los Angeles Clippers have mutual interest, and that the Clippers have already been in touch with Philadelphia about a trade.

Other interested, or at least, curious parties, include the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat, the latter of whom holds a stake in virtually any and all trade rumors surrounding a superstar player. The Heat's interest in Damian Lillard's potential availability may trump any interest they have in Harden, though.

Harden's interest in the Clippers makes it perfectly clear his intention is to find a destination that can offer him a path to a championship. He tried and failed with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, and perished again with Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

Harden's quest for a title will seemingly continue, which puts the Bulls' odds of landing him in question.

Still, as Fischer vitally noted, Sixers President Daryl Morey does not have to abide by Harden's request for his next destination. The same principle applies to Zach LaVine, who reportedly rejected the idea of being traded to the New York Knicks this offseason.

Contrary to that school of thought, it's likely both sides would do right by each player. Morey's relationship with Harden stems back to their days together with the Houston Rockets, where Harden won his first and only MVP award. Bulls executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas has also publicly praised LaVine on multiple accounts, too, displaying his respect.

The Bulls have shopped LaVine around the league this offseason, gauging what kind of offers they could pull for the two-time All-Star. In the event that the Bulls could acquire Harden --- one of the league's best offensive players --- would their admiration for LaVine outweigh the prize of Harden?

It's possible. But it would greatly depend on the return for both sides. There doesn't seem to be a scenario where either team would trade their superstars to flip the switch to rebuild mode.

The Sixers are reportedly looking to rid Tobias Harris' contract from their books, also. A trade package of LaVine and DeRozan for Harden and Harris works on paper, according to Fanspo's trade machine.

But would it entice both sides?

It's a long stretch with a multitude of conditions. The news of Harden's availability coming just before free agency opens Friday evening doesn't make things easier, either.

But if the Bulls are searching for the right deal to shuffle the deck and stay on course for a championship run, this could be an option. But again, it would take a lot of leg work and some stars aligning.

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