10 June, 2023
After his unsuccessful tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers, Gilbert Arenas suggested that James Harden join the Miami Heat. The former NBA guard discussed how Pat Riley’s leadership would prevent James’ off-court shenanigans in the most recent episode of his podcast.
“Miami,” Arenas said when asked about what Harden’s next destination should be. “Do you know who Pat Riley is? Pat had Magic, and he had LeBron James and D-Wade…They had Shaquille O’Neal, they had Gary Payton, they had Antoine Walker. They clubbed so much they built a barbershop inside the strip club. He broke them.”
Arenas went on to describe how Harden would compensate for Miami’s offensive shortcomings, particularly if Erik Spoelstra’s squad loses the NBA Finals in 2023.
Technically, Harden’s contract with Philadelphia is still in effect for another year because he has a $35,640,000 player option. But in order to land a long-term contract, The Beard intends to elect out and try his luck in free agency this summer. In a previous article, NBA Insider Brian Windhorst described how the 33-year-old may get a four-year, $200 million contract this summer.
For more than two years, Harden has voluntarily accepted the position of primary ball facilitator and supporting star. As a result, in the 2022–23 season, he averaged 21.0 points and a league-best 10.7 assists, demonstrating his ability to be a top player even without taking a lot of shots.
If Harden does wind up in Miami, his ability to play second fiddle to Joel Embiid might make him a good fit with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Coach Spoelstra may look to the 33-year-old to make crucial decisions in crucial scenarios because of his versatility and efficiency in both the paint and outside the paint.
Additionally, Kyle Lowry’s poor play has just made him a burden offensively, which largely puts the star tandem under scoring pressure. The Heat’s attack would become even more diverse and the job of the scorers would be made easier with the addition of another outstanding playmaker and ballhandler.
The Heat are a courageous and tenacious team. But the truth is that when compared to other NBA competitors, there is still a massive talent gap. With Harden there, that gap would surely be closed.