NBA Rumor: James Harden Trade?

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Rockets would want young star and picks for James Harden

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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.

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.”

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.

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.’

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.”

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.

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?”

Rockets give up on keeping James Harden

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?”

The Rockets’ position on Harden, for the record, hasn’t changed: They don’t want to trade him. Unappetizing as it sounds, Houston wants to play the long game and see if it can rebuild its relationship with Harden before conceding that trading him is the only alternative, even after Rafael Stone, the new general manager, made a forward-looking move in his first major trade by agreeing to send Robert Covington to Portland for Trevor Ariza and two future first-round picks.

Rockets trying to fix relationship with James Harden

“The Rockets really want to make James Harden a Rocket for life… They want to try to find a way to rebuild this relationship. If they are gonna move him, they want a mountain in return ie. assets, players, picks.” – ESPN’s @wojespn .

There are obvious ties to both Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Harden loved the years he spent with Durant and the Thunder early on in his career, constantly being called the glue that held the team together, according to a source close to Harden. During the Rockets’ 2018 trip to the Bahamas prior to training camp, Harden would watch hours of old Thunder games in his room. The presence of D’Antoni on the Nets’ staff as Steve Nash’s top assistant, along with the abilities of Kyrie Irving to take some of the ballhandling and scoring load off of Harden, would be an added bonus.

The Brooklyn Nets are prepared to go all-in for James Harden of the Rockets. Well, as long as they don’t have to give up one of their current stars. The Nets are throwing the proverbial “kitchen sink” in an effort to acquire the Houston Rockets superstar, according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. “The Brooklyn deal, it’s good.” O’Connor said on The Ringer NBA Show. “If you get all of those picks — and I’ve heard they are throwing the kitchen sink at Houston for James Harden — and [Caris LeVert], and [Spencer] Dinwiddie, that’s a really strong offer for a player who wants to leave.”

“It’s not a long shot,” O’Connor said about Harden being on the Rockets next season. “What’s the incentive to make a deal now? They could wait…and potentially have more opportunities to trade him for more than what Brooklyn can offer. Brooklyn can offer all of their future first round picks, all of their future pick swaps, Caris LeVert, Jarret Allen, and that’s it.” “For the Rockets, is this the deal you want to make now?…You don’t just trade guys like that for offers that aren’t no-brainers, and Brooklyn right now isn’t offering a no-brainer…It’s just not there yet.”

Harden, his family, and his foundation have done a great deal of work within Houston during his eight years there and have a vested interest in the city. Harden has a good relationship with Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner, other local professional teams, and has worked extensively with youth and the underprivileged. He’s a part of the ownership group that controls the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash. Harden is also currently building his own restaurant/bar in Houston, according to a source familiar with developments. There is a lot of mutual love that exists between him and the city.

The downside of being a valuable player is becoming a valuable trade chip, with the young center aware his name is being linked in trade rumors for James Harden. “At the end of the day I’m still going to be playing basketball. Whenever I go into the gym, and whatever happens, I’m there, I’m present,” said Allen, 22. “I’m ready to play for the Nets, I’m ready to learn from everybody there and just go about my stuff and just stay grounded as much as I can.”

The early signals emanating from Philadelphia suggest that Morey, the 76ers’ new president of basketball operations, wants to give Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons every last chance to click before trading one of them. Houston, just to name one non-Nets option, could decide to wait to see if the Sixers’ stance changes. As wary as the Rockets must be about doing a deal of that magnitude with Morey, we’ve seen that front offices that know each other well often find it easier to collaborate on the biggest of trades.

James Harden has a strong desire to get to Brooklyn, SNY sources confirm. How strong is the Nets’ desire to trade for Harden? That’s unknown. But the price tag for Harden probably went up after Milwaukee sent Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two pick swaps for Jrue Holiday. While the situations around Holiday and Harden aren’t the same, the Rockets can certainly make a case that they deserve a large haul based on the Holiday deal. “That deal certainly helps (Houston’s) case,” an opposing executive said Tuesday.

Another question to consider: How much support among the Nets is there for a Harden trade? As SNY reported on Sunday, people around Harden contacted some Nets about a Harden-to-Brooklyn trade recently. There was support for the idea among the Nets contacted, but the support wasn’t universal, SNY sources say. It’s unclear if there is universal support for the deal among Nets decision-makers. But if Durant and Irving are on board, you’d think that would increase the likelihood of a Harden trade.

Reports of a Russell Westbrook trade request to the Houston Rockets leaked last week, but it could have been in response to James Harden privately angling for a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. “I heard it a number of days ago,” said Brian Windhorst on The Lowe Post of Harden’s interest in the Nets. “Guess who else heard it? Russell Westbrook. So I think Westbrook, who is kind of the forgotten man here, I think he goes in and is like ‘You’re not asking for a trade. I’m asking for a trade.’ “And so I think in the postmortem, it might have been Harden who moved first.”


Rockets offered contract extension to James Harden

After turning down the chance to become the first $50 million a year player in league history, Houston Rockets guard All-NBA guard James Harden has made it clear to ownership that he’s singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell ESPN. As Harden’s conversations with the Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving ramped up in recent weeks on the West Coast, sources say the Rockets made a pitch for him to sign the maximum allowable extension — two years and $103 million on top of the remaining three years, $133 million on his current deal.

“Because Harden is still under contract to Houston, there’s not a great deal of leverage to force your way out, but his focus is getting to the Brooklyn Nets,” Woj said, noting that he and KD have spoken. “He’s spent recent weeks out in L.A. working out with Kevin Durant, with Kyrie Irving. That’s his intention now. For Houston, if they’re going to trade James Harden, they have made it clear to Brooklyn and around the league that they want a massive haul back. That means young players, that means draft picks. that means salary cap relief.”

“If you look at Kyrie… Harden if this happens, and then Kevin Durant, it’s going to be extremely difficult for them to get along together,” Allen said in an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio. “Personality-wise they might be great, but then on the court it could cause trouble or problems, which ultimately could affect their relationship if they don’t decide that they want to win, and scoring and having the ball in their hands does not matter to them.”

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.

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.
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December 5, 2020 | 2:48 am EST Update

Caris LeVert not fazed by trade rumors

That’s the backdrop under which LeVert opened training camp this week. “This was kind of my first rodeo [regarding rumors],” said LeVert, 26. “Whatever happens, happens at the end of the day. I just try to think about it like that. “I’ve spoken to [general manager] Sean [Marks]. I talked to Sean a lot, a couple times a week. Those things definitely come up, and he’s been an open book, honestly, when it comes to that type of stuff. [We] have a great relationship, so if something does happen, I feel like I’ll know about it. I feel like he’ll tell me.”
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Spencer Dinwiddie denied any notion he ever requested a trade from the Nets. He called that rumor “really dumb.” Dinwiddie, who was caught off-guard by the question during a Zoom conference call with reporters on Friday explained he felt he could have commanded more money as a free agent, but opted to sign at a lower number — three years, $34 million — to stay in Brooklyn. “I don’t know anybody that takes less than market value to stay on a team that wants to be traded, you know,” he said. “That’d be bad for business. That would kinda be really dumb.”
Those conversations might take a different tone with Dinwiddie than your average player. He’s representing himself after parting ways with his agent, although he downplayed that oddity during the season and said he’s not in contact with any other interested teams. “That’s like tampering or something, isn’t it?” Dinwiddie said. “People don’t have my number like that. My number isn’t just floating around out there. “My decisions are my own. I’m looking forward to anything that comes next. Remember, this year – the next 6, 8 months, however long this season lasts – there’s not really much to do on that front. It’s going to be much more interesting in the summer. That’s more a time for that conversation; right now it’s all about maximizing the 72 games and trying to win a championship with this group we’ve got.”
With Thompson gone, Love said he never expected he would be the longest tenured Cav from the 2016 champions. Matthew Dellavedova left for Milwaukee after winning the title and was traded back in December 2018. “Daniel Day-Lewis, baby,” Love joked, referring to the actor in 1992 movie The Last of the Mohicans. “As everybody knows, probably after the first week I was here, my name was thrown out — ‘Hey, we might be able to get something for him’ or ‘This would be a great trade’ or ‘Kevin’s name came up’ — with somebody pulling the name out of thin air, whether it was warranted or not. “In a way, it is a little crazy — maybe crazy is the wrong word — but there is something to be said for that. A couple of days ago I was breaking down how this is my seventh year here, my 13th year in the league and now I’m heading into being here longer than I was in Minnesota. It’s crazy how time flies and how fast-fleeting it is, for better or for worse.”
Storyline: Kevin Love Trade?
Ayton said he’s happy his “Valley Boyz” brother wound up in Golden State after the Chris Paul trade landed him in Oklahoma City, but Oubre said he hasn’t heard from Ayton since everything went down. “It’s kind of shocked me he hadn’t reached out to me, but at the end of the day, I understand, man,” Oubre said Friday during a Zoom media call. “He has to continue with the flow of his life and the situation that he’s in. I haven’t really got to luxury to say that we’re still in communication or anything like that, but I wish them all the best.”