Hoop Central: James Harden being denied a trade from Houston is the first time he has been told “no” from the organization; “I was talking to a former Rockets staffer...And he said, “Yeah he’s going to act up, he’s never heard no before.” (via @espn_macmahon on “The Hoop Collective”)
Along with the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets star James Harden now also has the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat among his preferred trade destinations, sources with knowledge have told The Athletic.
Harden is in Houston complying with the NBA’s coronavirus testing protocol, and sources close to the team and Harden expect the former league MVP to remain professional. The NBA ruled on Wednesday that Harden must register six negative coronavirus tests before practicing with the Rockets, a source said.
Harden has been non-communicative with the front office at times, sources say, but has maintained a dialogue with Rockets assistant coach John Lucas. He is expected to have a workout in front of Rockets personnel soon, according to sources.
Sources said the Rockets have no interest in a Nets offer, unless it would include either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Ryen Russillo: Now when it comes to Harden in the trade part of this, here's what I feel good about saying and that is I think the Simmons deal for Harden is there waiting for Houston. I think Philadelphia would do Simmons for harden yesterday.
All-Star James Harden wanted out of Houston as soon as the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as coach, a person familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the Rockets situation.
Multiple league sources have indicated to PhillyVoice that they believe Fertitta would not agree to deal Harden to Philadelphia specifically, with another suggesting the Sixers would have to pony up what would essentially be an extra "tax" to convince the Rockets to reunite Morey and Harden in another city. Teams are ultimately self-interested and will attempt to make whatever deal best helps their franchise, but you should never underestimate the stubbornness of a billionaire.
At the beginning of December a report from Shams Charania came that the Warriors had checked in on trading for Harden before the Klay Thompson Achilles injury had torpedoed the team’s offseason planning. “What was it? Probably Like two or three years ago? There was a rumor that LeBron was gonna leave Cleveland and come play for us,” Curry said, nearly laughing. “There’s all type of stuff that you hear. And that’s all part of the small world that is the NBA rumor circles and whatnot.” “Some of the stuff you kind of laugh at. Some of the stuff is just a part of the business but until anything happens in this league, you kinda just brush it off. It’s part of the nature of the business.”
Bobby Marks: I think with Harden, and we’ll wait and see what he has to say, but from the outside looking in, it is probably the worst case of player empowerment that I’ve ever seen in my 20 years with the Nets and five years in the media.
Bobby Marks: The Jrue Holiday trade to Milwaukee at least sets the bar from a draft standpoint when you’re getting three ones (first-round picks), two pick swaps, Eric Bledsoe and George Hill. If you’re Houston, you’re saying I’ve got Harden under contract for three years. Holiday could be a free agent next offseason. I’m getting double that. Does Brooklyn have double of that to offer? I don’t think they do. Is it Philadelphia? Does Ben Simmons become available here? Does that appeal to the Rockets?
The Rockets have known for years how important Harden’s legacy is to him and how badly he wants to win a championship. Westbrook’s arrival came off the backs of Harden’s belief that Paul wasn’t a suitable partner to lead the Rockets to a title, sources say. Prior to Houston’s flurry of offseason moves, Harden had told Houston that he didn’t see a realistic path to a title and would prefer to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, sources say.
At the moment, the Sixers haven't had any serious trade talks involving Harden, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. And Sixers head coach Doc Rivers reassured that much on Tuesday afternoon following practice. "You're not hearing [trade rumors] from us," Rivers stated. "As long as you don't hear it from us, you should be very comfortable. We like our team, man. I'll tell you that team I just watched out there is pretty special. Those rumors -- none are coming from us."
Stefan Bondy: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta on CNBC: “James Harden, I have all the respect in the world for. And James Harden wants to win a ring during his period as a basketball player. I think that’s wonderful that he’s going to do that and hopefully he’ll do it with the Houston Rockets.”
Marc Stein: Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta speaking on @CNBC after the team's various high-profile departures: "We've done nothing but gotten better in the offseason" Fertitta also says he knows James Harden wants to win a ring above all "and hopefully he’ll do it with the Houston Rockets"
Alykhan Bijani: Stephen Silas: "We're not in a rebuilding situation. Ownership and Rafael [Stone] have done a great job of putting a good team together."
Salman Ali: Stephen Silas on if there's been an erosion of trust with James Harden: "The NBA isn't roses everyday. There's going to be issues.... The good thing that I have here and one of the reasons that I was so excited to get this job is we're not in a rebuilding situation" pic.twitter.com/bBQ1FUkzOt
Melissa Rohlin: Gerald Green was asked if James Harden comes into camp in the next few days, if he'll be able to pick up the offense right away. "Easy," he said. "Without a doubt. James is a once in a lifetime player."
Michael Scotto: Doc Rivers on speaking to his 76ers players about James Harden trade rumors: "You’re not hearing them from us. As long as you don’t hear them from us, you should be very comfortable. We like our team. That team I just watched out there is pretty special." #Sixers
James Harden indicated to the Houston Rockets before training camp that he would be open to a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers or possibly other contenders, sources told ESPN. Harden, the perennial MVP candidate who is holding out of training camp, previously requested to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to form a superteam with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
After it was clear there was no traction in talks with the Nets, Harden expressed to the Rockets that he would be agreeable if a trade with the 76ers materialized, sources said. Harden also indicated that other teams could fit his criteria for a preferred destination, a source said.
The Rockets and the Sixers have had no substantive talks about a potential Harden deal, sources said. New Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, the Rockets' general manager for the previous 13 seasons, has said he has no intention to break up the Sixers' All-Star duo of center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons.
Houston hasn't wavered in what the Rockets consider a fair asking price for Harden: a package that includes a young franchise cornerstone and a bundle of first-round picks and/or talented players on rookie contracts, sources said. The Rockets have been adamant that they will not be rushed into trading Harden, regardless of how uncomfortable the situation has become with the three-time scoring champion failing to report to training camp while partying in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
In exploring avenues to get back into the thick of the championship chase, multiple league sources say the Warriors cast a wide hypothetical net that included James Harden. Though the vision of Harden moving into the Kevin Durant role was intriguing, the Warriors realized the return would be no better than a short-term gain while punching a hole in their future. It’s becoming more likely that Harden will end up leaving Houston, as his desire to go to another team is so transparent that his next step might be, for the fun of it, dying an orange “Trade Me” message into his beard.
This has little to do with Harden’s widely known tendency to, um, explore the nightlife. If he wants to star in a video that finds its way to social media and TMZ, he’s allowed. He’s 31 years old, has lots of cash and, hey, if he wants to drop a six-figure gift on Lil Baby, it’s his choice. How an athlete lives should be secondary to how he plays -- as long as it has no ill effect on it. No, the bigger issue for the Warriors would have been trying to squeeze Harden, as comfortably entitled as any player in the league not named LeBron James, into a culture that demands accountability and schemes that require collaboration.
Harden’s recent desires to be traded to Brooklyn may be an isolated incident, but this isn’t the first time he’s approached the team with such intent, sources say. When it became clear after losing to the Spurs in 2017 that another playmaker was sorely needed, the Rockets pulled off a blockbuster sign-and-trade deal for Chris Paul. After the 2019 playoff collapse and fallout with Chris Paul, sources say Harden told the front office the same thing: commit to building a championship team or trade me. That summer, Russell Westbrook was brought in for Paul — and the rest is history.
So, what does James Harden really want? The Rockets have known for years how important Harden’s legacy is to him and how badly he wants to win a championship. Westbrook’s arrival came off the backs of Harden’s belief that Paul wasn’t a suitable partner to lead the Rockets to a title, sources say. Prior to Houston’s flurry of offseason moves, Harden had told Houston that he didn’t see a realistic path to a title and would prefer to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn, sources say.
Salman Ali: Per @Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets and Nets have had no conversations on a possible James Harden trade for weeks. Houston has made it clear to the league they want a "monumental haul" back for Harden. pic.twitter.com/MTwz0DpQjC
Salman Ali: According to @Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets still want to get James Harden into training camp with John Wall. Says Houston wants to avoid fining and suspending Harden. pic.twitter.com/GXFlITNXDx
MacMahon said the Rockets "absolutely don't want a fight" with Harden. "The Rockets are clinging to the hope, 'Hey, we can be competitive this year," said MacMahon. "'If we're competitive and we're willing, maybe James will get back on board' They're just clinging to this hope and I mean, how many times have you seen a superstar demand a trade very publicly and things ended up working out. I will give you Kobe Bryant when they pulled the Pau Gasol trade and won championships. I'm having a hard time thinking of another situation like that."
The Rockets were definitely expecting Harden to report over the weekend and get to work (after going through league COVID-19 protocol to be cleared). They were surprised by this just like everyone else.
And for anyone wondering if Harden might have told team officials that he has no plans to wear a Rockets jersey this season — or, perhaps, ever again — sources say that’s not the case. There has been no such declaration, and the plan remains for him to suit up for the Rockets this season.
As for the prospects of him being traded, sources say the Rockets’ demands remain unchanged even after these past few days: An All-Star/All-NBA level player in return, as well as a treasure trove of other assets (young prospects, first-round draft picks, etc.). But as of Monday afternoon, sources say, the trade market wasn’t responding to these demands in the kind of way that would inspire a move.
Sources: These are unprecedented times for all involved, but there are rules and regulations surrounding this season for a very serious reason. Yet while Harden is clearly in violation of team rules in terms of reporting, it’s not clear as yet if his choices will result in discipline from either the Rockets or the NBA. “You’d like to get through it holistically,” one Rockets source said.
Sources: There’s some small sense here from the Rockets that this is James being James. He’s a known life-of-the-party type guy who — in non-pandemic times — was known to jet-set in pursuit of a good time only to hurry back to Houston while finding a way to perform at an MVP level. Yet while this is clearly different, his absence does not appear to have been packaged with a clear message attached.
There is significant confusion about what, if anything, he is trying to accomplish by staying away that goes beyond the messages already being sent. As for rival executives who are closely monitoring the situation, there’s confusion, and plenty of intrigue, there too.
Silas was then asked about Wall’s aforementioned interaction with Harden and what it might mean. “The only relationship that I have with James is the fact that he was one of the people who, in the interview process, recommended that I get the job. So that’s the relationship that I have. I assume that the relationship (Harden) has with John goes a lot further down the road, so for that communication to happen doesn’t surprise me and we’ll see when he gets here.”
With rumors swirling about Harden having demanded a trade, and having stayed away from training camp to help force one, his status has become the elephant in the room. It is one the Nets are trying to ignore. “I guess we let the elephant be,” Nets coach Steve Nash said of the Harden rumors. “I love our guys and hopefully they all feel really valued and wanted and respected. We have so many guys that bring so much to the table. “When I’m in the gym with them every day I feel fortunate. So hopefully they feel that, and they don’t feel that we’re looking out the window at greener pastures, because we love what we have here and hopefully our behavior every day emits that and guys feel comfortable, valued and supported and striving for something individually and collectively.”
“How do we handle James Harden not going to practice?” LeVert deadpanned. “For us, for myself, I don’t really have anything to do with James Harden not going to practice. That doesn’t concern me. “I’m focused on the team, the Nets, myself, trying to be the best I can be so that we can be better as a team. I don’t really focus on all of that stuff. That really has nothing to do with me.”
That player isn’t there because he’s exercising his leverage. With league sources saying the Nets are content to go into the season with their current roster and wait Houston out, Harden is forcing the Rockets’ hand. If Harden is successful in forcing a move, it would almost certainly see the Nets giving up a combination of Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. But when asked about Harden’s power move, LeVert feigned ignorance and tried to deflect the question.
Jonathan Feigen: Stephen Silas on James Harden's absence, schedule: "There is no timetable, as far as I know. It is a setback. You want your best player to be here."
Adam Zagoria: "I don't really focus too much on James Harden not going to practice. That has nothing to do with me." @Caris LeVert on the Harden trade rumors pic.twitter.com/1Ep4iYC4X2
Alec Sturm: Monja Willis, James Harden's mother, speaks out on Instagram: "He is doing the best for his career...He [is] ask[ing] for a chance to get a ring [and] that's it."
The Rockets have made it clear that they'd require a king's ransom -- starting with a young franchise cornerstone and a massive picks package, per sources -- in any potential deal for Harden. (Houston understood that Westbrook had much less market value and pounced when the asset of a protected first-round pick was attached to Wall.)
Houston's decision-makers do not believe that this deal drastically alters the suddenly strained dynamic between Harden and the organization. It certainly doesn't change the franchise's stance regarding the perennial MVP candidate, who the Rockets fully anticipate will at least begin the season in Houston, as a high-ranking team source told ESPN in the wake of Wednesday's trade.
Houston's front office is confident that the team can be competitive this season. Rookie general manager Rafael Stone has remodeled the roster in his first weeks on the job, adding skilled centers Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins in free agency before this sell-low swap of max-salary PGs. The Rockets are hopeful that winning will ease Harden's itchiness for an exit while recognizing that the pressure to trade him will intensify if early returns indicate that the team is not capable of contending.
During a later exchange at the press conference, House was asked about recent reports that All-Star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook had sought to be traded elsewhere, and whether he had heard from them during the offseason. In response, House said his entire focus has been on addressing his personal fallout from the bubble: What Russ and James and the team got going on, as far as my concern, I really didn’t know. I’ve been focused on the bubble situation. I wouldn’t be able to answer that question for you right now, because I was too busy trying to get myself into a position to present myself back to the team and organization, and the fans of Houston.
Marc Stein: Rockets star James Harden was not yet in Houston for the team's individual workouts Thursday, league sources say ... New Rockets coach Stephen Silas said this afternoon of Harden that he's "confident that he'll be here when we get started" Houston's first practice is Sunday
Michael C. Wright: Stephen Silas: "I'm looking forward to him [Harden] coming, and I'm looking forward to see what the team looks like. I'm looking forward to the whole group being on the floor together."
Adrian Wojnarowski: Russell Westbrook wanted to be in Washington, reunited with Scott Brooks, play with Brad Beal and John Wall wanted to play with James Harden, wanted to go to Houston. And finally they got that deal done.
But Houston remains intent on starting the season with Harden on the roster and trying to re-establish a relationship with him before considering a trade, according to a person familiar with the Rockets’ thinking who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Tim MacMahon: Eric Gordon on Rockets: "Our core guys are still here. I still have high expectations going into the season, no matter what all the outside noise is." Does he feel James Harden is still on board? "That’s a question you have to ask him. He’s still with our team, so I assume so."
Hours before the Warriors president of basketball operations spoke to the media Tuesday, a report dropped that Golden State had checked in with the Houston Rockets to gauge the availability of James Harden. When asked about his team's interest in the 2018 NBA MVP, Myers turned quiet. "No, I'm not going to comment on everything that's written about us, true or untrue," Myers told the media. "I'm just not going to do that. I appreciate you have to ask, but if every call we made or didn't make, I had to comment ... I don't think it's productive on my side. "I understand why you ask these questions. Very fair to ask."
For the Wizards and Rockets, there's hope that the exchange of guards will play a role in convincing the two franchise shooting guards on each team, Washington's Bradley Beal and Houston's James Harden, to want to stay long-term with their teams. Harden has privately asked for a trade, and Beal could become a free agent in 2021.
Houston's stance on Harden has not changed, a high-ranking Rockets source told ESPN, saying the team hoped to be competitive with the perennial MVP candidate on the roster this season and does not envision a scenario in which Harden would be traded before the opener. The Rockets have let it be known that they would require a return that included a young, potential franchise cornerstone and a massive picks package in any potential deal for Harden, according to sources.
Kelly Iko: Eric Gordon on whether he thinks James Harden is committed to the team: “That’s a question for him. He’s still with the team so I would believe so.”
On Tuesday morning, Elhassan’s Sirius XM NBA colleague, Frank Isola, doubled down on the report that Harden wants out, during Sirius XM’s morning NBA show The Starting Lineup. “We had that confirmed by somebody pretty plugged in that Harden definitely wants out. And he told them trade me to Brooklyn. And I’m only doing it if I’m the Nets if I can trade Kyrie Irving.”
Shams Charania: I don’t even believe an offer was made [for James Harden by the Warriors]. I think it was just an inquiry like, ‘We have a potential major offer here if you guys want to discuss.’ Houston was not really - I think they were open to hearing out different offers and proposals as they have been even going back to last year with all of their players, as historically that franchise has been. But they weren’t out there soliciting and making counters and making offers. But I think the Warriors did make it known, ‘Listen, we have a potential major offer here if you want to talk.’
Shams Charania: The Warriors at one point made a call about James Harden.
What’s Houston’s mindset going into training camp with Harden and Westbrook? Feigen: I think the organization’s mood is extremely cautiously optimistic, but optimistic. The organization has felt all along they need to bring these guys back and let them work with Stephen Silas, let them work with a slightly changed rotation, and let them feel good about that. Things get that way a little more when you’re apart and when you’re playing pickup ball with KD (Kevin Durant), and he’s so excited about what that team can do. You remember those good times in Oklahoma City, and they went to the Finals where Harden has not been since he left Oklahoma City.
Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and crew would be must-see TV by themselves; adding one of the all-time great players in the two-time league MVP Nash, who’s never coached anywhere at any level, only adds to the palace intrigue. (Having a first-time HC is one reason I don’t think Brooklyn’s going to get James Harden; I just can’t see GM Sean Marks being comfortable putting that much on Nash’s plate as he’s learning the coaching ropes; it’s going to be hard enough for him keeping KD and Kyrie sated.) No one thought Harris was going anywhere, so re-inking him at just under $19 million per is about as well as you could expect the Nets to do. I like Shamet, but he couldn’t secure consistent time in Philly or with the Clippers, and it’s hard to see him getting a ton of burn with Caris LeVert already behind Irving and Harris, but we’ll see.
Well, with all seemingly quiet on the Harden front, Brian Lewis of the New York Post appeared on NBA TV to provide some clarity on the situation. To avoid spoiling the video, let’s just say that fans who are behind a trade for the former MVP will find themselves disappointed. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that they (the Nets) have moved on from the idea of adding Harden, and it’s not dead in the water,” said Lewis. “It’s more floating. In other words, Houston — from what I understand — is not in a rush to move him. I think they accept the fact that’s what going to end up happening. . . They would love to bring as many teams to the table as they can to get the best deal.”
CJ Mc McCollum: “I like LeVert. I like Dinwiddie, I like Jarett Allen. I like the picks. But for Houston, you went all in on James, you brought in James, like his preferred players." Don't you have to ask for Kyrie in return? CJ McCollum: “Yeah, for Kyrie I would do it.”
Hardwood Paroxysm: Corrected: Nets are currently favored to start the season with Harden at @PointsBetUSA. You can get Rockets at plus money.
Tim MacMahon: How the Rockets handle James Harden's desire to be dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. The Rockets insist that they haven't given up on winning back Harden's heart -- and the series of moves that resulted in high-scoring center Christian Wood's arrival in Houston were an aggressive, expensive attempt to improve the roster -- but the organization is bracing for life after The Beard. Houston can't afford to be bullied into a bad trade, and time is on the team's side, with Harden under contract for two more years.
Farbod Esnaashari: Sources indicate to me that the Rockets weren't pleased with the Harden's trade request getting leaked so early. He's been as vocal as possible about being traded to the Nets, but Houston believes they have the leverage in this situation. Harden's goal remains the same.
Salman Ali: .@Adrian Wojnarowski says the Rockets have engaged in Russell Westbrook trade discussions, but not James Harden ones. Says Houston getting both Harden and Westbrook back in training camp is more likely than Westbrook getting moved.
With the Nets content to wait for Harden to force his way out of Houston, and unable to offer Serge Ibaka enough to keep him away from the Clippers, Brooklyn has pivoted from big-game hunting and big-name targets. The Nets have shifted their focus to improving around the margins and getting ready for the season.
Hoop Central: Houston has “not shown a desire” to move quickly on a deal for James Harden, via @wojespn. It looks like Harden will be with Houston entering training camp, at least. Eyes
Harden’s desire to be traded to Brooklyn is out in the open now, the Rockets’ dysfunction this season a matter of record. As a source with direct knowledge of what was going on in Houston this season put it Thursday, “things were getting outta control.” Houston’s new front office is holding firm for marquee offers for its marquee superstar; a foundational piece in Wiseman, a potential high Lottery pick in what should be a loaded draft next year or in 2022 and a returning Thompson hits a Houston rebuild at multiple levels.
So, with not just Harden but Russell Westbrook wanting out, Houston’s new GM, Rafael Stone, is looking for a deal that starts with a young star and includes multiple first round picks. “A package for Harden, and listen, this thing has accelerated a lot faster than I anticipated it would. These things are all fluid. We understand that. What the Rockets are saying is ‘We need a young franchise cornerstone type of player and a Jrue Holiday-like package of picks. That’s where conversations have to start.’ And do you see a young franchise cornerstone caliber player on the Nets? Do you consider Caris LeVert either young or a franchise cornerstone?”
The Houston Rockets have come to the realization that James Harden would like to move on from franchise and his mind is made up, but they are not preparing to rush into a trade to his preferred destination. Houston previously has said they are "willing to get uncomfortable" with the Harden situation. "The sense I get from the Rockets is that their ambition, their goal, their hope is no longer about salvaging the relationship with James Harden and kind of getting him on board," said Tim MacMahon on the Brian Windhorst Podcast. "There's a realization, you know, his mind is made up. He wants out and there is a determination to say 'Okay, we get it. This happens in the NBA, but just because James Harden wants out doesn't mean he gets to dictate where and for what [he's traded].
MacMahon also reported what the Rockets are seeking for Harden. "A package for Harden, and listen, this thing has accelerated a lot faster than I anticipated it would. These things are all fluid. We understand that. What the Rockets are saying is 'We need a young franchise cornerstone type of player and a Jrue Holiday-like package of picks. That's where conversations have to start.' And do you see a young franchise cornerstone caliber player on the Nets? Do you consider Caris LeVert either young or a franchise cornerstone?"
May 8, 2021 | 5:28 pm EDT Update
Scott Agness: Pacers assistant coach Greg Foster is back, and continues working with Goga Bitadze. They hugged before beginning pre-game warmups.
Tony East: Nate Bjorkgren says Myles Turner has upped his time in the weight room and training room, but hasn’t returned to the court yet in practices. Said he will hear more soon, didn’t say if his season is over or not.
Scott Agness: Edmond Sumner is available today v WAS. Brogdon, Lamb and Sampson remain out. Pacers being cautious with Lamb’s knee. “He’s in the gym, he’s been working hard,” Bjorkgren said. “He had another good workout that I just saw him doing an hour ago.”
Rick Bonnell: Positive movement on @Charlotte Hornets injury report: Devonte Graham questionable after sitting last 3 games with right knee discomfort. Malik Monk not listed as injured, after missing 4th quarter Friday with a sore ankle.
May 8, 2021 | 4:39 pm EDT Update
A game-worn jersey belonging to Michael Jordan from his 1982-83 championship season at the University of North Carolina sold for $1.38 million Saturday, making it the most expensive Jordan jersey sale ever. The previous record had been set in October when a No. 23 Chicago Bulls jersey from 1986-87 went for $480,000 through Heritage Auctions, which also auctioned theNorth Carolina jersey.