Houston Rockets guard James Harden and Dallas Mavericks youngster Luka Doncic are two of the best players in the NBA. Harden is a former MVP who has led the league in scoring the past three seasons, while Doncic is a triple-double machine and primed to win an MVP award one day.
Both James Harden and Luka Doncic have mastered the art of the step-back jumper. While it would be must-see television to watch these two superstars on the same team in Dallas, that scenario won’t be happening despite Harden requesting a trade from the Rockets.
Luka Doncic is the franchise player for the Mavericks in the post-Dirk Nowitzki era
Luka Doncic has taken the NBA by storm in his first two years with the Mavericks. He’s averaging 24.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.3 assists through his first 133 games while shooting 44.5% from the field and 32.1% from beyond the arc. Doncic has also recorded 25 triple-doubles.
While James Harden is a once-in-a-generation talent, he wouldn’t be a good fit next to Doncic on the Mavericks. Both players need the ball in their hands to be successful and it makes no sense for Dallas to take the ball out of Doncic’s control since he’s younger than Harden and has proven to be more of a team player.
Luka Doncic is the franchise player for the Mavs in the post-Dirk Nowitzki era. While Dallas’ front office has to be aggressive on the trade market and in free agency to acquire more talent around Doncic, getting more shooters and defenders is the smarter play. James Harden on the Mavericks would likely cause a rift between The Beard and Luka Legend since both guys want to be the man and there’s only one ball.
James Harden has never been able to co-exist with another star
James Harden has played with Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook on the Rockets. While Houston has made the playoffs every season with Harden in the fold, the team has never made it to the Finals. Harden also had beef with both Howard and Paul.
Howard only lasted three years on the Rockets before leaving in the summer of 2016 for the Atlanta Hawks. The eight-time All-Star didn’t have a good relationship with Harden, who wasn’t enthusiastic about throwing the ball into the post and giving Howard his touches.
One of the top point guards in NBA history, Paul played just two seasons in Houston. The Rockets traded CP3 for Westbrook in the offseason of 2019 because Harden didn’t want to play with Paul anymore. The two guards disagreed on playstyle and Harden eventually told Houston’s front office to ship Paul out of town for Westbrook.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook never had beef since they are very close friends. However, they weren’t able to co-exist since both guys wanted the ball. Westbrook also had issues with the Rockets’ lack of accountability and requested a trade this offseason. Houston traded the former MVP to the Washington Wizards for John Wall.
Mavericks have no interest in pairing Harden with Doncic
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Mavericks won’t be trading for James Harden and pairing him with Luka Doncic. Despite the arrival of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Christian Wood in Houston, Harden still wants to be traded.
Under owner Mark Cuban, the Mavericks have rarely had locker room issues. Harden would likely disrupt the chemistry Dallas built last season when the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the two stars of the team and the Mavericks can’t risk adding a polarizing figure like Harden to the mix since Luka and KP are still young players in the league who are developing.
Besides, the Rockets are probably looking to trade James Harden to the Eastern Conference so they’ll only have to play him twice a season.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.