The Nets and 76ers were the two teams battling it out for Harden’s services at the end of the race, but Philly felt the Rockets were using them as leverage to extract as many assets from the Nets, Harden’s preferred destination, a league source told HoopsHype.
The inclusion of the 24-year-old Simmons did not sway the Houston Rockets away from the offer from the Brooklyn Nets, where Harden ultimately landed. “The Rockets were looking at one other serious suitor: the 76ers,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on NBA TV. “They did put Ben Simmons in their proposal. But at the end of the day, the Nets’ total offer just supplanted that.”
The “Culture Nets” are now the “Talent and Ego Nets.” Sure, it's a new regime, but Brooklyn is once again going all-in. And it's really championship or bust in the Durant-Irving-Harden Era. Similarly, in many ways, to the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce blockbuster in 2013. “They did it again,” the source said. “But these guys are younger and have a lot more gas in the tank. It's a big deal. It's a heckuva deal. Granted, you've got all the picks involved and a rookie coach.”
Brooklyn pushed all its chips in the center of the table to acquire Harden and form a superstar trio with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. “They better win it in the next two years,” a rival Eastern Conference executive told HoopsHype. “It’ll be interesting to see how all these players and personalities get along together.”
If you answered "yes" to that question, such a deal likely would have required the Celtics to part ways with rising star Jaylen Brown. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated said on Wednesday's Early Edition that was a move Ainge was not interested in making. "Under no circumstances if you're Boston do you make any kind of offer that includes Jaylen Brown. That was really the Celtics' mindset for the last couple of months. There was no significant interest in a deal that involved Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are simply operating on a completely different timetable than the Brooklyn Nets. Their stars are Kevin Durant at 32 [years old] and Kyrie Irving at 29. You've got the Celtics with [Marcus] Smart, [Jayson] Tatum, Brown, a whole bunch of younger guys they're trying to develop in their mid to early 20s.
"Trades happened today and I couldn't allow myself to indulge in that knowing that we had a game that we had to play tonight." LeBron James remained locked in on the Lakers' mission after the James Harden trade. Face with look of triumph (via @RyanWardLA )
James Harden is leaving the Rockets but his new restaurant is still in play in Houston. Wednesday afternoon brought news that Harden will be treaded to the Brooklyn Nets, leaving some to wonder if his much-anticipated restaurant, Thirteen, opening soon in Midtown, would be affected. The restaurant, according to spokeswoman Sherrie Handrinos, is planning a full-court press on the Houston dining scene.
Wasserman: Thrilled to welcome @James Harden to Wasserman. Can’t wait to see you hit the court in Brooklyn #TeamWass
Alex Schiffer: Steve Nash addressing us pregame. On the addition of a superstar vs. homegrown guys: "We know this is a star's league. Maybe we can reimagine that question at another time." Nash can't speak on the Harden situation fully until it becomes official.
Malika Andrews: Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert, Rodi Kurucs and Taurean Prince -- all part of the James Harden deal -- are all now OUT tonight against the Knicks, Steve Nash says. They are not in Madison Square Garden.
Marc Berman: Thibodeau still concerned about Nets despite them missing Kyrie Irving (personal), Caris Levert (gone), Jarrett Allen (also gone). "All I know is when you have a player like Durant, he causes a lot of problems. We have to lock into who they do have. They do have quite a bit."
Joe Vardon: In the meantime, Daryl Morey tried to trade Ben Simmons off the Sixers. I’m told Ben is ‘fine’ after today’s events, but we will all have to monitor how this goes there with him and Joel and Daryl and Doc and the whole bit
Ramona Shelburne: James Harden hired Jason Ranne and Chafie Fields from Wasserman to secure a trade for him. They worked closely with the Rockets and all teams involved to secure the deal. Wasserman also represented Russell Westbrook and worked closely with the Rockets on his trade to Wizards.
Bobby Marks: Brooklyn will catch a big break re: luxury tax In a normal season, the Nets tax bill would have increased from $57.5M to $87.1M (+29.6M). Because of the projected decline in revenue, the Nets were projected to have a $30.2M tax penalty. That number is now $45.6M (+15.4M)
Bobby Marks: With the trade, Houston will go under the luxury tax by $3.65M and hard cap by $9.95M. Before the deal is consummated, Houston will need to waive a player (had 14 on the roster before the deal and now sending out 1 and taking back 3).
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston GM's Rafael Stone's return of picks -- including four unprotected first and four unprotected pick swaps -- is one of the strongest draft packages in league history. Oladipo's on an expiring contract and Rockets can make a decision on moving forward with him.
Shams Charania: Sources: Full current trade: Rockets: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, 3 BKN first-rounders (22, 24, 26), 1 MIL first (22, unprotected), 4 BKN 1st round swaps (21, 23, 25, 27) Nets: James Harden Pacers: Caris LeVert, 2nd-rounder Cavs: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Rockets are expanding the deal to send Caris LeVert to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Nets are acquiring a 2024 second-round pick in the deal from the Cavaliers, sources tell ESPN. For Cavaliers, Jarrett Allen solidifies their future at the center spot. Remember, he's only 22 years old.
Shams Charania: The Indiana Pacers are moving Victor Oladipo to the Rockets for package around Caris LeVert, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Shams Charania: The Nets are trading for All-NBA star James Harden and sending four first-round picks and four draft swaps to the Rockets, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen are being moved -- could be another team or two involved.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Ramona Shelburne: Brooklyn sends three unprotected first-round picks -- 2022, 2024 and 2026 in deal -- plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. The Rockets get Cleveland 2022 first-round pick via the Bucks.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brooklyn has granted James Harden's wish to be reunited with Kevin Durant with the Nets. Huge haul for the Rockets, but the Nets were determined to get another All-NBA player in his prime -- and get him with Harden. KD, Harden ... and Kyrie Irving.
Chris Haynes: Yahoo Sources: Although Houston will go in a different direction, a list of teams James Harden submitted as a preferred trade destination included the Portland Trail Blazers.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @RamonaShelburne: Brooklyn is acquiring Houston’s James Harden in a blockbuster deal, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Breaking: The Houston Rockets are trading James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Adam Spolane: DeMarcus Cousins called James Harden's comments "disrespectful" but he has a right to his opinion. Cousins says he has an opinion on some of Harden's actions as well
Sam Amick: DeMarcus Cousins: "My interest is to play with John Wall, to be brutally honest. ...The (Harden) disrespect started way before. This isn't something that, you know, all of a sudden started last night. ...It's completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room."
Marc Stein: The haggling over precisely which players (and how many teams) would feature in a James Harden trade continues, but league sources say nothing has happened -- yet -- to dislodge the Sixers from their long-held position as the favorites to acquire Harden
Joe Vardon: After a raucous start, James Harden has scored 21, 15, 15, 20, and 16 points in his last five games. The Rockets lost four. It's early, but his 24.8 ppg is his lowest since 2011-12. The Sixers view these as protest numbers. 'Daryl (Morey) likes points,' one league source said
Marc Stein: The Rockets are pursuing a trade package from the 76ers that would be headlined by Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, league sources say
Chris Haynes: Houston Rockets are also requesting Philadelphia 76ers defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle in a trade package for James Harden, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
Marc Stein: Houston is increasingly determined to complete a James Harden trade as soon as today, league sources say, and has chased the promising Maxey in addition to Simmons Philly is known to covet Houston's PJ Tucker in addition to Harden while the Nets have also remained in pursuit
Salman Ali: Christian Wood on if Houston can still be competetive without James Harden: "I do. I'm going to make this team competetive, whether they like it or not. I didn't sign with Houston to lose games."
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Rockets are planning to keep Harden away until a trade is done --- with front office weighing best final offers from Brooklyn and Philadelphia, sources tell @Ramona Shelburne and me. Process is moving quickly now.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston's talks with Sixers and Nets gathered momentum in recent days -- even before James Harden's news conference on Tuesday night, sources tell @Ramona Shelburne and me.
Jeff Zilgitt: Silas said he had a sleepless night after Harden's comments last night. Said he talked to Harden this morning. Said Harden's comments were hard to hear, especially when he doesn't believe they are true.
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.
One player whom the Rockets and 76ers have discussed in potential packages is 2019 first-round pick Matisse Thybulle, with Houston having interest in the defensive-minded forward, sources said.
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.”
Kelly Iko: James Harden: The situation is crazy and I don’t think it can be fixed. So, yea. Harden proceeded to leave the podium.
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]."
The Houston Rockets -- who have seen the ransom of assets that players such as Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday got on the trade market with only one season remaining on their contracts -- have set and maintained a high asking price for Harden, who has two seasons and more than $90 million remaining on his deal.
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 Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors have joined the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat in making a "courtesy call" to the Houston Rockets on a James Harden trade, sources tell Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
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.
May 17, 2022 | 4:40 pm EDT Update
David Hardisty: Chet Holmgren says he thinks he can be a “50-40-90 player” in the NBA. He believes his ability to create his own shot and score on his own will be on display.
Callie Caplan: Warriors’ Kevon Looney on Luka Doncic-James Harden comparisons after guarding Harden in past series: “Luka’s able to post up pretty much anybody when he gets his shoulder on you. … The biggest difference is the size. Luka’s really strong. That kind of surprised me this year.”
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive, daughter of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, is the new Assistant General Manager of the G League Stockton Kings, according to multiple sources. She is with the Kings in Chicago for the week’s NBA Draft Combine.
Sean Cunningham: Anjali Ranadive will assist all aspects of basketball ops, including G league player evaluations & development, strategy, among others. She’s been with the organization working in the Social Responsibility dept. & she’s excited to bring her passion for basketball to her new role.