Tim MacMahon: Christian Wood, exercising the art of und…

More on James Harden Trade?

Salman Ali: Stephen Silas: "We control what we can. We concentrate on beating San Antonio and what it's going to take to beat San Antonio and that's all we can control at this point."
The Nets have prepared a package to Houston for Harden featuring all of their four future first-round picks and three future pick swaps, multiple sources said. This would place significant pressure on the team to win immediately and the potential partnership between two former star teammates in Harden and Kevin Durant. Nets general manager Sean Marks and his front office have built an impactful culture around their players, and have been able to keep strong future flexibility in the process. For the Nets, there could be hesitation to mortgage future assets with this type of ferocity. Brooklyn does not owe any extra firsts or have any owed to it, so it has four firsts and three swaps available.
The Rockets have pursued a 76ers package centered on All-NBA star Ben Simmons, sources said. Boston and Toronto have also expressed interest at various points. Simmons, a two-time All-Star, has continued to grow his game on the defensive end of the floor. As far as star talent, the Rockets would be able to acquire a player in Simmons whose talent level may not be available elsewhere.
Nick Wright: News: There has been legitimate movement on the Harden front. Brooklyn is prepared to offer *anyone* that Houston wants aside from Durant for Harden, as well as 3 1sts & swaps. BK willing to make the same bet it once made on KG & Pierce, but on Harden.
Adam Zagoria: Per @Stephen A. Smith on @FirstTake, the Rockets are "strongly considering" letting James Harden "stay home" and sit out "until they're able to move him." "He wants to to go to Philly, that would be his No. 1 preference," Smith said, with Brooklyn as his No. 2 option.
Nick Wright: If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks. Question for Joe Tsai is is he willing to make a similar bet Prokhorov made shortly after he bought the team: Mortgaging all future assets & future abilities to improve the team for a chance to win the title right now, especially when the Harden-Kyrie fit is questionable at best.
Harden and the Rockets have been a divorce waiting to happen for some time now, and that couldn’t be made clearer now. After Sunday night’s game, a 120-102 blowout loss to Los Angeles, Harden’s desires for a trade were reinforced, The Athletic understands. Privately, Harden knows the team as currently constructed can’t defeat the Lakers in a seven-game series, a reality that only further cements desires for a move elsewhere, sources said. With the Lakers being the reigning champions and the standard for a contender right now, Harden wants to maximize the window he still has, a source said. Brooklyn still remains atop his wish list, sources said, though other contenders still remain.
Barry Jackson: What we saw again from Herro, Robinson, Precious last night re-affirms why Heat unwilling to send ALL of its very good (non-Bam) young assets for Harden, as opposed to couple. Houston wants Miami to remove everything from youth cabinet to even consider.
Adrian Wojnarowski: James Harden's aware that the Rockets are continuing to discuss trade scenarios with teams, although no deal is imminent, sources tell ESPN. Houston's asking price remains steep, as you'd expect it would for a player of Harden's caliber.
Houston's front office is determined to remain patient until its asking price for the 2018 NBA MVP is met, sources told ESPN. The Rockets have informed teams that they want a young franchise cornerstone and a package of first-round picks and/or intriguing talent on rookie contracts in return for Harden, sources said.
The Rockets have had active/ongoing trade discussions with "more than a half dozen teams," according to one source close to the situation, and have been communicating with Harden about those options. Harden made it clear to owner Tilman Fertitta before the season that he did not believe in the franchise's direction and ability to contend and preferred to be traded to a team that was in a better position to win, sources said.
Adam Spolane: John Wall on his partnership with James Harden: "I think it's been a little rocky, can't lie about that. I don't think it's been the best it could be, to be honest. That's all I could really say." pic.twitter.com/ld7AZFCylQ
Alykhan Bijani: John Wall: "Like I told everybody tonight, when the 1-15 guys are all on the same page and they commit...you all will be fine. But when you have certain guys in the mix that don't want to buy in as one, it's gonna be hard to do anything special as a basketball team...It hurts."
Alykhan Bijani: John Wall: "If we can all get on the same page, we can be something good here. We can't dwell down on it because it's only been 9 games. Come on, man. You're going to jump off the cliff off of 9 games? There's a lot of basketball still to be played." #Rockets
Here, the agent’s goal is to pressure a team by fleshing out why a player wants to be traded. One example is the reasons why James Harden wanted out of Houston. “I’d get out there is a lack of confidence in management or a first-time head coach,” one agent said. “You’re not taking a direct shot, so it doesn’t personalize it to some degree, but essentially saying you can’t work with these people, or you want to win now, and my window is closing. It’s a little bit of a backhanded stab, but it’s not a direct cutting of the throat.”
Front office executives around the NBA say Houston is growing more confident that Harden will be content sticking around at least through the rest of the season. Sources say Harden still prefers to be dealt, and losses like Sunday’s 18-point defeat to the Lakers won’t help Houston’s case. But Harden himself expressed optimism for Houston’s future on Saturday, telling reporters, “As long as we continue to find chemistry, we have a chance to do something special.”
With the Wizards in disarray, teams thirsting for a blockbuster trade are increasingly shifting their gaze toward Beal. Though James Harden captured the entire league’s focus after demanding a trade, league sources question general manager Rafael Stone’s willingness to deal him this season. The Rockets have shown promise amid a 3-5 start—John Wall resembles his pre-injury self, Christian Wood is posting All-Star numbers, and even role players like Jae’Sean Tate are excelling off the bench.
League sources expect Miami to remain in the race for either Harden or Beal. But the fact the Heat can only offer their 2027 first-round pick hurts their odds of making a splash, and as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst first reported in December, that caused early discussions with Houston to fizzle.
Through six games, he’s hovering around the same sort of production (17.6 points, 40.7%) but is it concerning enough, this early, for the Raptors to ship Siakam to Houston in exchange for Harden? “You look at Pascal and that’s the guy on your roster that makes the most sense,” Windhorst said. “The other challenge is with the way the roster has actually been put together, I think they have seven players that they’re not allowed to trade until February or March. So, it’s not like that difficult to figure out what a Raptors offer would be. I’m sure it would have to be Siakam. I would guess the Rockets want Malachi Flynn and then you’re looking at multiple first-round draft picks into the future, probably lightly protected or unprotected. “That’s a big bite, especially because you’re looking at that – you trade away Siakam, you’re looking at really depleting your frontcourt, you’re going to be backcourt-heavy, you’re going to need some people back there so it requires other transactions.”
Scott Pera, who coached Harden in high school and remains close to him, says the Rockets’ star absolutely wants to win a championship. “He wants to win,” says Pera, now the coach at Rice. “People can say whatever they want. That, I know.”
To win a championship, Harden probably has to sacrifice a bit—and there’s considerable skepticism around the league that he’s willing. “I don’t think he is,” says a veteran executive with an Eastern Conference team. “James is like Allen Iverson: He wants to win his way and put up historical numbers while he’s winning. I would never question their desire to win, but they all want to win on their terms.”
A Western Conference exec echoed those doubts, saying, “It’s hard for me to envision him playing any other way,” although he added, “I’m not sure if that’s him or the Rockets” insisting on that style. Harden’s advocates point to his Sixth Man of the Year award as proof of his selflessness and adaptability. But that honor came in 2011–12, when Harden was a 22-year-old reserve for an Oklahoma City team led by Durant and Westbrook. When you’ve been a franchise star and a perennial MVP candidate, it’s hard to take a step back.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN and longtime sports writer Bob Ryan were guests on the latest episode of The Ringer’s Bill Simmons Podcast. The trio discussed possible Harden deals with Simmons, who said the Nets’ interest in “The Beard” waned when Mike D’Antoni suggested Brooklyn had enough on the current roster: “I heard that Brooklyn cooled of on Harden and one reason was D’Antoni, they were like ‘were good, lets keep what we have here, Harden presents some problems,'” Simmons said.
Pair that with the team's recent blockbuster trade history, and a disgruntled Houston Rockets superstar being on the market, and it's no surprise NBA insiders have linked Toronto to James Harden. The latest to do so was ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "The Raptors are almost in the same spot that they were two years ago [when they made the Leonard trade]," Windhorst said during an appearance on The Lowe Post podcast. "They have good players. They're a good team. There's probably seven teams in the Eastern Conference who could get the whiteboard out and convince themselves that they're getting to the Conference Finals. "...I actually think the Raptors are a strong candidate to do this again. Whether or not they could execute it, whether or not they could bring themselves to do it [we'll see]."
It is not a coincidence that a number of teams such as the Celtics, 76ers, Heat, Nets and Raptors -- teams that are in the "good not great" zone -- have at least made a courtesy call to the Rockets, sources said. Even the Bucks, sources said, at least had an internal conversation about it and ran it past Giannis Antetokounmpo before deciding not to get involved. They had to; with the current landscape, Harden's eventual destination is on the mind of everyone in this tightly packed race.
The Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers might see themselves at the top of the contender list, but there are teams around them that have been dancing on the Harden periphery. The Portland Trail Blazers reportedly are monitoring, and so are the Nuggets, who have interest in getting involved in a deal even if they don't end up with Harden, sources said. There could be more if the situation plays out a little.
NBA Central: Report: The Houston Rockets would "probably want" both Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson in a James Harden deal. Barry Jackson: Am told Rockets want significantly more than that.
The Denver Nuggets have interest in participating in a multi-team trade with the Houston Rockets even if they don't end up acquiring James Harden. The Rockets are known to be targeting Michael Porter Jr. as a young player with All-Star potential. It is not known what type of return the Nuggets would seek if they included Porter. The Nuggets have had interest in Jrue Holiday and Bradley Beal in recent months.
The Milwaukee Bucks even had an internal conversation and ran it past Giannis Antetokounmpo before deciding not to pursue Harden at all. There are approximately seven teams in the East that can realistically talk themselves into having an opportunity to reach the Conference Finals, which puts the possibility of a Harden trade for one of them a balance of power shifting move.
Brian Windhorst on James Harden being traded to Philadelphia: Right now, at 3 and 1 and Embiid and Simmons playing like this, I would say they're farther away from a Harden trade than they were two weeks ago.'
As I reported on Dec. 17, the Sixers went into the regular season committed to seeing what they had here with Simmons, Joel Embiid and all these new shooters that now surround them. From there, sources say, the results, chemistry, perceived ceiling and the like would all be factored in when it came to what might come next on the Harden front.
While rival executives have been very skeptical that the Nets make a serious push for Harden, Spencer Dinwiddie’s torn ACL is just the kind of thing that might change how GM Sean Marks sees his roster. Yes, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have looked amazing together so far. But is that enough? A third team would likely need to be involved, but the loss of the scoring depth that came with Dinwiddie changes things here in terms of possible need. Brooklyn is 2-2 so far, with Durant and Irving having rested in Monday’s loss to Memphis.
Milwaukee has no plans to pursue Harden, who sources say isn’t seen as a culture fit for their group.
If the Nuggets were to make a Harden move, rival executives anticipate that Michael Porter Jr. would be the likely target for the Rockets. The Denver Post has reported that Murray will not be included in any such deal, and that Porter Jr. has been the focus of Rockets-Nuggets talks that — as of the Dec. 22 report — had not gained traction.
Stone traded Russ shortly after. Harden is now looking for the next rescue from the flooded Rockets. The list of teams where he might end up grows and shifts daily—it’s this NBA season’s favorite topic. But many insiders believe Philadelphia is most likely. Harden wants to be there, Morey loves Harden so much he was just fined $50,000 for an automated Tweet praising Harden. And the 76ers have Ben Simmons, the kind of young star Stone seeks in return.
Would you rather have 24-year-old Ben Simmons, who might yet learn to shoot 3s, or 31-year-old Harden who showed up to training camp late and not in peak shape but still managed a cool 78 points and 25 assists over his first two games? It’s a lively NBA debate. Whatever Morey’s true preference, Stone almost certainly knows it. They spent years of friendship—including carpooling to work—talking about basketball, advanced analytics, and assessing players. As Rockets sources point out, Stone is steeped in Morey’s thoughts on almost every player in the league, and vice versa.
Recently, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a partially torn ACL which now rules him out for the remainder of the season. Nonetheless, there weren’t any advancements made in trade talks as Dinwiddie was previously seen as a trade piece that could be dealt away if a Harden deal was to be done in the future. Via ESPN’s Zach Lowe on his podcast: “Spencer Dinwiddie’s health did not make or break the Nets’ ability to get James Harden,” he said. “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?’”
The Brooklyn Nets have been on James Harden's trade list, but there appears to have been very little in the way of discussions with the Houston Rockets. Spencer Dinwiddie has been linked with a potential trade for Harden, but he was ruled out for the season on Monday with a partially torn ACL.
"Spencer Dinwiddie's health did not make or break the Nets' ability to get James Harden," said Zach Lowe on his podcast. "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?'"
McCollum shot down any notion that playing Harden while the rumors swirled added any motivation to his game Saturday. “Look, I know I’m nice, man. I don’t need to psyche myself out to go against one of the best players in the world,” McCollum said. “Like, James is really good. Regardless of what James does in his spare time, James is really fucking good at basketball … like, really good. So I don’t need to get extra sleep to go guard a guy that averages 35. You know what I mean?”
Lillard and McCollum don’t just coexist on the court. They are close off it. They vacation together. Workout together. Heck, even their mothers are close. There is a depth and transparency to their relationship that is unmistakable. It’s why Neil Olshey, the Blazers’ president of basketball operations, has so staunchly rejected the idea of trading McCollum. Years ago, when asked about breaking up the backcourt, Olshey broke from his strict policy of not addressing player contracts or status. He countered with his own question: Why would he break up one of the best backcourts in the NBA?
Olshey and Harden have remained close since Harden’s youth, when both lived in Los Angeles. Olshey was an assistant coach at Artesia High, where Harden later attended after Olshey left, and when Olshey was hired by agent Arn Tellem to be a workout specialist for draft prospects, he and Harden forged a friendship that hasn’t wavered. Whether the Olshey/Harden connection is strong enough for Olshey to consider breaking up the Blazers’ backcourt buddies, and if so, whether Portland has enough assets to satisfy Houston are questions that nobody is answering.
McCollum shot down any notion that playing Harden while the rumors swirled added any motivation to his game Saturday. “Look, I know I’m nice, man. I don’t need to psyche myself out to go against one of the best players in the world,” McCollum said. “Like, James is really good. Regardless of what James does in his spare time, James is really f------ good at basketball … like, really good. So I don’t need to get extra sleep to go guard a guy that averages 35. You know what I mean?”
Whether the Olshey/Harden connection is strong enough for Olshey to consider breaking up the Blazers’ backcourt buddies, and if so, whether Portland has enough assets to satisfy Houston are questions that nobody is answering. In the meantime, Lillard and McCollum on Saturday did what they have been doing for years: showing how and why two stars can co-exist. “The foundation of us being connected as a backcourt is our friendship,” Lillard said. “Me wanting the best for him and him wanting the best for me, and him supporting me and me supporting him. I just think we have a balance.”
Kristian Winfield: Steve Nash says he has no communication with Sean Marks as it pertains to a James Harden trade. Says he’s happy with the group of guys the Nets have right now.
James Harden’s holiday wish list has grown longer yet again, it seems. Such is life when you’re a disgruntled NBA star who’s hoping Santa leaves a trade of your liking under the tree this year. Sources told The Athletic that the Houston Rockets guard has recently deemed the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers among his preferred destinations.
When asked if Harden's behavior would be a red flag in trading for the former MVP, team executives told ESPN they thought it was selfish and reckless but would not prevent a deal. Teams have already done their homework when it comes to Harden both on and off the court. One NBA executive told ESPN that the team had hired a private investigator to do a thorough background check, treating the process of gathering information on him like it would a draft prospect.
Any potential deal would have to include Gary Harris or Will Barton, if not both, to match salaries, which would leave the Nuggets extremely thin on the wing. As rumors circulated about a potential deal to acquire the disgruntled superstar, another league source told The Post that Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray was never included in any discussion.
More current rumblings indicate that tension within the Rockets is mounting each day Harden goes untraded. The Athletic illuminated some of that tension with a report Tuesday that Harden recently threw a ball in practice at Jae’Sean Tate, his new rookie teammate. Both sides now want to move on as quickly as possible. It’s time.
I still regard Philadelphia as the most likely landing spot for Harden, largely because Ben Simmons most closely fits the description of the sort of building-block player Houston is holding out for in return. I’m also told that the familiarity between Daryl Morey and his Rockets successor, Rafael Stone, will outweigh any lingering ill feelings from Morey’s move to Philadelphia as president of basketball operations less than two weeks after he walked away from his Houston contract. I know Morey has said that Simmons is going nowhere. I also know Morey made similar statements about Chris Paul before he traded Paul to Oklahoma City for Russell Westbrook.
The Heat let it be known this week that they are not actively pursuing Harden, which is a blow for the Rockets because Miami is one of those fearless teams with the oft-proven gumption to embrace an enigma like Harden in spite of the various red flags. The Sixers and the Nets, though, may not be the only other options: In recent days, it has become known that Toronto, Boston and Denver have also had exploratory talks with Houston.
The Nuggets aren’t trading Jamal Murray, a league source told The Denver Post, as rumors circulate about Denver’s potential interest in acquiring Houston’s disgruntled superstar James Harden.
But a league source said Tuesday that Murray would not be traded. His transcendent postseason run in Orlando reaffirmed why the Nuggets gave him a max contract extension last summer and underscored why they view him as a franchise cornerstone, along with center Nikola Jokic.
On the Nuggets, that would likely only leave Michael Porter Jr. as a centerpiece of a deal, along with salary filler to match Harden’s remaining two years (plus a player option), assuming the Rockets were interested.
Ira Winderman: Per source, Heat no longer are engaging Rockets when it comes to Harden. Was told conversation never was more than cursory, but that, of course, always is a matter of perspective. Heat made clear on eve of 2018-19 season they were out of Jimmy Butler talks for that season.
Anthony Chiang: According to a source, the Heat is no longer involved in trade talks for Rockets star guard James Harden. Source said there was an initial call put in by the Heat to check in with the Rockets on the Harden situation, but it didn't go far. Heat opens the regular season Wednesday.
Tim Reynolds: The Miami Heat are not actively pursuing James Harden at this time, AP is told by a source with direct knowledge of the matter. There was preliminary talk between the teams; I would imagine almost every team had those with the Rockets.
While Wojnarowski doesn’t get into any specifics about what Philadelphia would want, it seems reasonable to assume that if they’re being asked to part with Simmons and draft picks, the 76ers would seek at least one more player from the Rockets — perhaps someone like P.J. Tucker. It doesn’t sound like Houston would be enthusiastic about that scenario though, per Wojnarowski, who says the Rockets will likely want Simmons “plus a bunch more assets” for just Harden. “You saw (Sixers president of basketball operations) Daryl Morey come out yesterday and say, ‘We’re not trading Ben Simmons,'” Wojnarowski said. “Well, I certainly don’t think they’re trading Ben Simmons just in a deal that looks like it’s straight up with some picks for James Harden. I think they’re going to want a lot more than James Harden. That might not be a deal that’s available to the Sixers.”
With all the drama swirling around James Harden and the Houston Rockets, it’s impossible not to talk about Harden, and whether the franchise will trade him. That apparently goes for play-by-play man Bill Worrell. During the Rockets’ preseason win over the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, he watched as new addition Christian Wood took a rebound coast-to-coast for a score and shouted out, “Who needs James Harden?”
Storyline: James Harden Trade?
More HoopsHype Rumors
April 19, 2021 | 9:26 pm EDT Update
April 19, 2021 | 8:15 pm EDT Update
April 19, 2021 | 8:03 pm EDT Update
Home