It’s no secret that James Harden no longer wants to play for the Houston Rockets. And after recently trading Russell Westbrook, new general manager Rafael Stone may have to unload another disgruntled star sooner than later.
With Harden clearly looking for a way out of Houston, the eight-time NBA All-Star recently added two more teams to his preferred trade destination list. But will one of those franchises step up and pay the required price to acquire the former MVP?
James Harden wants out of Houston
James Harden went from good to elite once he joined the Rockets. After averaging just 12.7 points across three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound guard has averaged 29.6 points in his eight years in Houston.
Harden led the league in scoring in each of the last three seasons. However, the perennial All-Star has drawn warranted criticism for his streaky playoff performances. Harden has just 42.1% from the field and 32.4% from 3-point territory in 85 postseason games with the Rockets. Houston has never earned an NBA Finals berth during his time with the team.
Following another early playoff exit, the Rockets made a coaching change and hired Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D’Antoni. That came despite both Harden and Westbrook wanting Tyronn Lue to get the job.
Ultimately, the Rockets got rid of one of their unhappy stars by trading Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in a deal that brought back John Wall. Yet, that has apparently changed nothing about Harden’s stance on his future with the franchise.
Clearly, Houston has a problem.
The Rockets’ disgruntled star expands his preferred trade destination list
NBA superstars possess the power to control their fate much more so than their NFL counterparts. After all, Kawhi Leonard essentially refused to play for the San Antonio Spurs before he got his wish of getting traded. Anthony Davis also leveraged the New Orleans Pelicans into sending him to the LA Lakers so he could join forces with LeBron James.
Ultimately, it looks like James Harden is pulling a similar type of move with the Rockets. The 31-year-old recently revealed his preferred trade destination list, which included the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets.
But while the possibility of a reunion with Kevin Durant, that isn’t the only superstar who Harden wants to play alongside.
The idea of a Harden-Giannis Antetokounmpo pairing seems absolutely frightening given their unique skillsets. On the other hand, a Heat squad headlined by Harden and Jimmy Butler would certainly be tough to beat, too.
Clearly, Harden has his sights set on joining a contender in the Eastern Conference, which makes sense given the presence of LeBron and AD in LA.
But will he get his wish?
Where will Harden end up?
So far, James Harden has four teams on his preferred trade destination list. Although the Bucks are on there, that seems like a remote possibility given their lack of draft capital as a result of the Jrue Holiday trade. At this point, Milwaukee should be more focused on signing Antetokounmpo to a contract extension.
The 76ers already have two stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. However, Philadelphia has yet to taste championship success with that duo. Obviously, a Harden trade would have to involve one of those two big names. Are the 76ers ready to break up the Simmons-Embiid tandem just yet?
Ultimately, the Heat seem to be the only realistic contender on Harden’s list. Although Miami doesn’t have a ton of cap space, the team does have several expiring contracts that could be included in a trade. However, any deal for Harden would likely cost the Heat Tyler Herro, who looks like a star in the making.
As badly as James Harden wants out of Houston, it looks like it will be difficult for the Rockets to find a suitable trade partner.
And if he has to remain with the franchise, the 2020-21 NBA season will certainly be a little more interesting.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.