James Harden has appeared in seven games for the Houston Rockets this season, missing one game due to an ankle injury. The Beard is averaging 26.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 11.0 assists while shooting 46.2% from the field and 36.4% from beyond the arc.
Despite Harden’s stellar numbers, though, the Rockets are only 3-5 and in 13th place in the Western Conference standings. There are still many games left in the season for Houston to turn things around and establish themselves as one of the West’s top teams, but the club can’t afford to fall too far back in the standings since the Western Conference is so tough.
The prevailing thought is that James Harden still wants the Rockets to trade him. However, the 2018 MVP may have just temporarily changed his mind about his trade request.
The Nets and Sixers are widely known to have interest in James Harden
James Harden prefers that the Rockets trade him to the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets are led by two of Harden’s closest friends in the league in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, while the Sixers have former Houston general manager Daryl Morey running the front office, and everyone knows how big of a fan he is of Harden.
The Nets, after losing Spencer Dinwiddie for the season due to an ACL tear, likely don’t have the assets to acquire a player of Harden’s caliber. The Rockets are looking for multiple draft picks and star players in return for Harden, who has led the NBA in scoring three times. It is widely believed that the Nets will have to send Houston a package of Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, and future draft picks for Harden, but Brooklyn can’t trade Dinwiddie anymore since he’s injured.
The Sixers can trade Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid, along with draft picks, for Harden. However, new head coach Doc Rivers wants to see what the Simmons-Embiid duo can accomplish with him at the helm before making any drastic changes. Since Morey loves Harden, though, and is one of the most aggressive execs in the NBA, the Sixers remain a serious threat to acquire the disgruntled Rockets star.
James Harden is under contract with the Rockets and will lose money if he decides not to play in games. With that being said, Houston general manager Rafael Stone is under no obligation to trade the superstar shooting guard, and it appears Harden is beginning to understand that.
The Rockets have grown confident that James Harden will be content to stick around
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, executives around the NBA claim that the Rockets are growing more confident James Harden will “be content to stick around at least through the rest of the season.” Even though the future Hall of Famer prefers to be moved, Harden appears to have built good chemistry with new teammates John Wall and Christian Wood despite the Rockets’ 3-5 start.
The Rockets should make the playoffs with Harden, Wall, and Wood leading the offense. Harden is the best scorer in the NBA, Wood is playing like an All-Star in his first season with Houston, and Wall is only going to continue to get better as he knocks off the rust from missing all of last season. The grass isn’t always greener, so Harden may be content with staying in Houston for the rest of the 2020-21 season and seeing how things play out.
The Rockets have to get the best return possible for the eight-time All-Star
The Rockets probably don’t like any of the offers they have received for James Harden, which is why the eight-time All-Star likely won’t get moved this season. No matter how ugly things get behind the scenes or in the locker room, Houston’s front office has to get the best return possible for Harden.
Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid are two of the best star players the Rockets can acquire for Harden. The Miami Heat have a few young players Houston could be interested in, such as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. At the end of the day, the Rockets need to get one of the biggest–if not the biggest– returns in NBA history for James Harden, who is a once-in-a-generation player.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.