The Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets have started their 2020-21 seasons in opposite directions. Led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Nets are 2-2 and look like legitimate title contenders. Meanwhile, James Harden and the Rockets are 0-2, and the 2018 MVP is still looking to get traded.
The Nets have been on James Harden’s trade wish list since the three-time scoring champion has a rapport with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. However, it doesn’t appear that Harden will get his wish and be traded to the Nets.
James Harden is dominating for the Rockets despite his trade request
The Rockets’ first game of the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed due to three positive/inconclusive COVID-19 tests and four players under quarantine. Houston didn’t have the required eight available players to play its game versus Oklahoma City.
James Harden and Co. made their season debuts versus the Portland Trail Blazers on the road. The Beard picked up where he left off last season, as the All-Star guard poured in 44 points and 17 assists in 43 minutes of action. Harden followed that up with 34 points, six rebounds, and eight assists in the Rockets’ second game versus the Denver Nuggets. Even though Houston lost both contests, it’s evident that Harden isn’t going to let his trade request affect his play on the court.
After the NBA fined him $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols, Harden has reminded everyone that he’s worth the trouble. The future Hall of Famer attended a private indoor party and was photographed without a mask on. Harden is known to party a lot in his free time, and some around the NBA speculated that his off-the-court antics might decrease his trade value.
However, contenders such as the Nets would be foolish not to trade for Harden, who is undoubtedly one of the best scorers in NBA history. Brooklyn and Houston, though, may not be able to agree to a Harden trade.
Nets and Rockets haven’t had traction on a James Harden trade
According to Zach Lowe of ESPN, the Nets and Rockets haven’t had much traction on a James Harden trade. Brooklyn lost guard Spencer Dinwiddie to an ACL tear in the third game of the season, and he was being mentioned as one of the players the Nets would have to send to Houston to acquire Harden.
However, it looks like Dinwiddie’s injury didn’t change much of anything for the Nets or Rockets.
“Spencer Dinwiddie’s health did not make or break the Nets’ ability to get James Harden,” Lowe said on his podcast, h/t Real GM. “It’s unclear to me, frankly, if those teams have had anything resembling a serious conversation about James Harden. Let’s make that clear. I don’t sense that there’s been hardly any traction there at all. And maybe the way the Nets started had them thinking, ‘Why are we messing with this?'”
James Harden and Kevin Durant were teammates on the Thunder back in the day, so the two superstars have a close relationship. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving and Harden have developed a bond as well over the years. People around the NBA understand why Harden wants to play for the Nets, but the former Sixth Man of the Year may not get what he wants.
Will The Beard demand to be traded and sit out games until he’s gone from Houston?
If he doesn’t get traded by the Rockets soon, will James Harden go to the front office and demand to be traded as soon as possible? Superstars usually get their way in the NBA, but it’s clear Houston will take its time in dealing with Harden’s trade request, and that may not sit well with the 31-year-old.
This probably won’t happen since he loves to compete, but Harden could force the Rockets’ hand by sitting out games until he’s traded. However, if the California native did that, he would be losing even more money on top of the $50,000 he already lost.
It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens in Houston. James Harden clearly wants to play for the Nets or Philadelphia 76ers, but it doesn’t look like anything is in the works at the moment.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.