Tommy Beer: James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant…

More on James Harden Trade?

The Rockets have no interest in tearing things down to restock shelves with draft picks and prospects and start over, a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking said. They will attempt to be much more Daryl Morey’s “win now” Rockets than Sam Hinkie’s “trust the process” Sixers.
Stone has known how Westbrook feels long enough that he did not need Sunday’s NBA memo, declaring that the moratorium on trades ends at 11 a.m. Monday morning, to begin assessing his options. Westbrook, like Harden, shares his opinions generously. So far, Stone has not gotten close to the “shopping” stage, with his talks falling between “listening” and “exploring.”
The Rockets likely will need both. And for the trade possibilities that have circled like birds of prey, the Rockets’ goal remains, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking, to make their core players believe again in the team’s championship chances. That, as always, begins with the face of the franchise. James Harden has long had enormous input in how the team has been built. That has not changed. He has been known to grow impatient, as with his restlessness through the six days it took to complete the trade for Westbrook in the summer of 2019.
The Rockets believe they can bring in the help to regain his confidence. But it will take a whole lot more than powers of persuasion to make the Rockets — tied for fourth in the West and quickly brushed aside by the champion Lakers in the second round — look like legitimate contenders. Westbrook, according to a person with knowledge of conversations, wants to feel as if he can “be himself.” That could mean moving to a team that would return him to his Thunder role. The Rockets believe it could come with adjustments in Houston.
James Harden is intrigued by the possibility of reuniting with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn, a league source familiar with Harden’s thinking told SI. While there have been no substantive discussions between the Nets and Rockets about a trade, Houston is evaluating its options moving forward, per sources.
If anyone understands that, it's Brooklyn fans. It's also Marks, who inherited basically an empty cupboard after the Nets got fleeced by Boston. But Marks expedited a rebuild that could've easily taken a decade, and instead turned the team around in a presidential term. His track record – while not always perfect – pretty much speaks for itself. “Sean's got the stones to pull this off,” was how one agent put it.
While KD, has, by all accounts, looked great in offseason workouts, he still has to prove he can be his dominant self in games. Irving, who has his own injury history to consider, has shown himself to be a volatile personality. And Nash, for all his success and countless accolades as a player, has never dealt with adversity as a coach before. Plus, no offense to Houston, but Harden hasn’t ever played in a market like New York before (even though it may be a lot easier with no fans and Zoom interviews). Regardless, all of it would make the Brooklyn Nets far-and-away the most interesting team in the NBA. “(Expletive) yeah,” another agent responded when asked if he'd like to see it.
Nets Daily: ESPN updated its story on @James Harden and Nets: "The idea of playing together again came up during Harden and Durant's offseason workouts together in LA. Sources said the players talked openly about whether the combination could work and how a trade facilitating it could work."
The idea of joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn is resonating with Harden, sources said. Durant and Harden -- past teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder -- have recently discussed the possibility, but there have yet to be trade discussions between the two front offices.
Houston Rockets GM Rafael Stone has consistently been telling teams that the Rockets plan to "run it back" with Harden this season, sources said. The Rockets have seemed inclined to listen to offers on Harden, sources said, although that's customary for most teams about most players in the league. If the Rockets did decide to engage in trade talks on Harden, they've privately made it clear that they would require a monstrous return of players, draft picks and pick swaps.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: The Rockets continue to tell teams that they plan “run it back” with Harden this season. So far, there have been no trade discussions between the Rockets and Nets.
In a conversation on ESPN’s The Jump, veteran NBA insider Zach Lowe said this of the current situation between the Rockets and their stars: From what I’ve heard today, the Rockets are trying to remain calm. There’s nothing imminent. They think they can repair whatever needs to be repaired, and enter next season with both of these guys on the team, and hopefully get off to a strong start.
But the removal of these key components — D’Antoni departing for an assistant coaching position in Brooklyn and Morey becoming president of basketball operations in Philadelphia — has left serious doubt in both Harden and Westbrook’s minds of an ability to sustain long-term success, sources said. Although Harden and Westbrook were kept abreast of decisions and offered input, both players are in win-now mode and have raised questions as to whether or not that same mindset is shared with the front office, sources said.
As the Houston Rockets navigate an offseason of major change, a new challenge is emerging for the franchise -- the uncertainty of former MVP guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook on their futures with the team, sources tell ESPN.
Mike D’Antoni walked away from the Rockets as head coach less than 48 hours after their season ended, with no promise of a new job, and will be a Nets assistant coach next season under Steve Nash. Daryl Morey then fled Clutch City, in the midst of a coaching search, to take over the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office. And Houston didn’t hire either of the candidates Harden endorsed the strongest to replace D’Antoni: Tyronn Lue and John Lucas. Rival teams are thus already wondering: a.) how perturbed Harden is, and b.) how long before the Tilman Fertitta-owned Rockets seriously entertain trading him?
The Houston Rockets are not trying to trade James Harden. I repeat, the Houston Rockets are not trying to trade James Harden. There will be a statue erected of the Bearded One right on the corner of Polk Street and Jackson Street whenever he decides to hang his sneakers up. Harden single-handedly changed the trajectory of a franchise that was headed for years of mediocrity and is a big reason why they are still respected in league circles. More importantly, he’s still in his prime, has enjoyed a clean bill of health, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The Houston Rockets have zero interest in trading James Harden to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons, something ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the most recent Brian Windhorst Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip Real GM). “I’ve already been told with a few expletives included by somebody with the Rockets: ‘No, Daryl, James Harden for Ben Simmons is not happening. Don’t ask.'”
MacMahon then provided a huge caveat. In his mind, it is very much possible that Harden’s tenure in Houston comes to an end in the near future. However, this would be Harden spearheading the move and not the Rockets: “I think at this point it’s probably a year to year deal. If I’m speculating, I’m going to say that decision is more than likely made by James Harden instead of made by the Rockets. In other words, it could get to a point… And I don’t believe this is imminent. Again, I think it’s a year-to-year situation where at some point James Harden, who has tried repeatedly to pair with a superstar to give him a chance to a championship: first Dwight [Howard], then Chris Paul and now with Russ. If James Harden wants to pair with another superstar, he’s probably going to have to be the one to pack his bags. Is that next offseason? Is that the offseason after that? We’ll see. Obviously a lot of that depends on what happens with the Rockets over these next one or two years.”
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.”
Meanwhile, voluntarily moving Harden isn't expected to be in play. But whether Houston can remain a part of the contending group going forward remains up for debate.
Storyline: James Harden Trade?
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November 29, 2022 | 9:13 pm EST Update

James Jones on Chris Paul's return: 'He's close'

Then Jones addressed the status of Paul, who hasn’t played since Nov. 7 at Philadelphia where he injured the foot in the first half of a loss to the 76ers. “Chris, he’s close,” Jones said. “He’s coming back. He’ll be back. I can’t tell you he’ll be back (Wednesday). He’s been looking good and we’re still taking the long view with him. From Day 1, we’ve said that when our guys are eligible to play, when they’re available, they’re completely available. No restrictions. Nothing mentally, physically, to hold them back. So he’s getting there. And once he gets there, you’ll know.”

James Jones set to step away from day-to-day duties to focus on big-picture objectives?

Moving forward, Jones says he’ll be stepping away from more of the day-to-day whirlwind and delegating some of those responsibilities in order to focus on more big-picture objectives. For the time being, Jones is not eyeing any personnel changes like hiring a new general manger to take on some of his current duties. But he didn’t completely shut down the idea for further on down the line either. “I’m not focused on that right now,” he said. “I mean, if that happens, it happens, but for me right now, it’s getting us to the All-Star break.”
The Suns currently are atop the Western Conference. They’ve won their last five games. “This team is special,” Jones said. “There aren’t any challenges that are daunting to us. If it’s injury, if it’s external situations, external factors, it’s back-to-backs, tough one-point losses. They don’t affect our psyche. Our guys all come in, they work and they show up in big moments. So I’m proud of this team just because I know these guys and I get a chance to see them every day. They don’t get a chance to display their grit and resiliency, but they’ve been able to do it for the first 20 games and we’ve been better for it.”
Jones admitted he’s obviously keeping tabs on the latest with the ownership situation, but for now, Crowder is the pressing issue at hand. Unfortunately, little has changed over the last few weeks, as Jones said there’s “nothing new” with Crowder. “Just haven’t been able to get a deal done,” he said. “It’s the NBA, right? Timing, there are there aren’t any perfect times. Like, there’s no window where they say ‘Hey, all deals are done here.’ We have natural deadlines, like the trade deadline, where you usually have a flurry of deals, but other than that, it’s just finding the right fit, and we just haven’t been able to find that yet.”