• The Celtics and Raptors emerge as favorites for James Harden
  • The Rockets expand the list of franchises to facilitate trade
  • Barkley says the 76ers should pull out of the race for Harden 

The James Harden trade is likely to be the longest-running saga of the ongoing off-season and the upcoming season, with new teams emerging every week as potential destinations for the Houston Rockets shooting guard.

The Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics are the latest franchises to enter the mix and are said to be the new favorites.

Harden requested a trade prior to the start of training camp, and the Rockets are said to be actively holding talks with multiple franchises in order to engineer a deal.

The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers were said to be the 2018 MVP’s preferred destinations.

After failing to come to an agreement with the Nets and 76ers, the Rockets front office is said to have begun talking with other interested teams around the league.

The Rockets have shown a willingness to complete a deal as soon as a team is willing to add value to the trade package in terms of young talent and draft picks.

ESPN Houston Morning Show host John Granato has now cited "impeccable sources" when revealing that the Raptors and Celtics are now the favorites to land Harden with packages involving Pascal Siakam and more or Jaylen Brown and more respectively.

“An impeccable source says the Raptors and the Celtics are the favorites right now for James Harden. It’d be a package for Pascal Siakam and more or Jaylen Brown and more,” Granato wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

If the Celtics do land Harden, it will make them instant contenders in the Eastern Conference with the shooting guard partnering fellow All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker.

Meanwhile, NBA legend Charles Barkley believes the 76ers will be better off if they stay away from the guard. He feels it will be detrimental for the franchise to reorganize their entire offense just to accommodate Harden.

“He’s the best 1-on-1 player I’ve ever seen. He’s not as good as Michael (Jordan) and Kobe (Bryant), but as far as being an offensive force, he’s the best I’ve ever seen. But are you going to change your whole offense, and play him like Mike D’Antoni played him? The Sixers won’t be better with James Harden,” Barkley said, as quoted on NBC Sports.

James Harden
James Harden scored 44 points and 15 assists as the Rockets beat the Warriors in overtime. In this picture, Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado, Nov. 13, 2018. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images