James Harden still wants to be traded by the Houston Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the teams the 2018 MVP is interested in playing for. If the Bucks acquire Harden, they will have two MVPs on the roster in The Beard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, Bucks fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden teaming up in Milwaukee.
James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have an icy relationship
Giannis Antetokounmpo has won the last two MVP awards, becoming the first player since Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (2015, 2016) to win back-to-back MVP trophies. James Harden, who has led the NBA in scoring the past three seasons, has been very open about how he feels he should have won the 2018-19 MVP award.
Last season, Harden did an interview with ESPN where he subtly shaded Antetokounmpo’s game. The three-time scoring champion said he actually has skills and can’t just run up and down the floor and dunk the basketball as Antetokounmpo does.
Harden’s comments came after Antetokounmpo trolled the Rockets star during the 2020 All-Star Draft. Charles Barkley asked Antetokounmpo why he didn’t want to draft Harden, and the Bucks’ do-it-all swingman said he wanted someone who was going to pass the ball.
It’s evident that James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo aren’t fond of each other. However, that’s not the main reason why the Bucks don’t want to trade for the lefty.
The Bucks don’t view James Harden as a ‘cultural fit for their group’
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Bucks don’t have interest in trading for James Harden. The franchise doesn’t see the scoring guard as a culture fit for their group next to Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Harden is a polarizing player since he’s a known partier off the court and a ball-dominant player. Three future Hall of Famers–Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook–couldn’t co-exist with Harden on the Rockets. With that being said, there’s no reason to believe that Antetokounmpo and Harden would mesh on the Bucks.
The Rockets are 0-2 on the season, but Harden has been a monster. He scored 44 points against the Portland Trail Blazers and 34 versus the Denver Nuggets. Meanwhile, the Bucks are 2-2. They have lost to the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks and beaten the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat. Antetokounmpo is averaging 21.5 points and 11.3 rebounds.
Having James Harden on your roster makes you a better team since he’s one of the top scorers in NBA history. However, he can negatively impact the chemistry of a group, and it looks like the Bucks don’t want to ruin what they have going in the locker room right now with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the leader.
Will the Bucks regret not adding James Harden next to Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The Bucks acquired Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans this past offseason, upgrading their point guard position. Milwaukee also signed Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig, and D.J. Augustin in free agency.
While the Bucks got Giannis Antetokounmpo more help on offense, the team lacks a pure half-court scorer, something Milwaukee needs once the playoffs start since half-court scoring is at a premium in the postseason. Antetokounmpo isn’t a good jump shooter and struggles to score when teams pack the paint against him. James Harden would certainly help the Bucks become more explosive on offense. He’s a career 25.2 points per game scorer and regularly drops 40 points in his sleep.
If the Bucks don’t win the championship this season, the team’s front office may ultimately regret passing on a Harden trade. Thus far in 2020-21, Milwaukee hasn’t been impressive. They lost to the lowly Knicks on the road already.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.