James Harden has been heavily criticized throughout his career for his playoff underperformance, but he’s also a consistent MVP candidate who is solely responsible for the team being in position to contend every year. Would the Rockets actually consider moving on from Harden? “I wouldn’t put it past [Daryl Morey] to consider moving James Harden,” NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Do I think it is going to happen? I would not bet on it.” “Daryl Morey is as transactional as any GM we have seen in the NBA,” Haberstroh continued, “so I think this team that you see right now for Houston, is probably not going to be the team next season.”
That's probably a step further than the Rockets are willing to go. Harden keeps the Rockets on national television and in the playoffs. Several teams believe Westbrook is available, but they've received no indication from Houston that Harden is anything but untouchable. "Everything should be on the table, including moving Harden," said the second Eastern Conference executive.
“I wouldn’t move Harden,” one Eastern Conference general managertold HoopsHype. “He’s still so good, and they’re too old right now to just start a rebuild unless you’re getting a Jayson Tatum or Luka Doncic to rebuild around. I’d probably run it back in some shape or form, especially with next year being a compressed time period. I would keep all options open, but I wouldn’t be selling Harden just to the highest bidder. In the last two years, they easily could have won it all, so I don’t think it’s fair to panic yet if they lose. Now, if there’s a great deal out there, that’s a different story, but I still think it’s worth riding out one more year. If Westbrook is tradable, get it done.”
Hanging over all of this is Harden’s future. Nobody is talking about this yet, but Harden can become a free agent at the end of 2021-22. Paired with an aging, asset-free roster and an owner unwilling to spend on better help, when does he start looking at greener pastures? And if the Rockets are stuck with a dim future roster-wise, isn’t cashing in their Harden stock about the only way out?
January 19, 2021 | 1:38 pm EST Update
Derek Bodner: Doc Rivers says that he expect Joel Embiid (knee) to be able to play tomorrow. #sixers
Brian Seltzer: Doc Rivers tells media that every opportunity to get in the gym is imperative at this stage of the season. “We have so many new bodies, new system, new coach, everything. Important practice. I don’t know if it will show results right away, but it was definitely needed.” pic.twitter.com/uI6EwNfgjf
Christian Clark: Lonzo Ball upgraded to probable. Looks like he will play tonight, which he said yesterday was his plan. nola.com/sports/pelican…