Portland Trail Blazers star CJ McCollum has been keeping a close eye on the trade rumors floating around the NBA over the past two weeks. One that really caught his attention was the Houston Rockets potentially trading James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets.
On Monday, McCollum appeared on Complex’s Load Management podcast and offered his take on how he envisions all that going down.
“I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” he said. “I don’t think [the Rockets] are gonna trade him there.”
It’s not that McCollum thinks the Nets don’t have an attractive package to offer. They have some very solid young pieces. It’s more of a matter of circumstances.
“I like [Caris] LeVert,” he said. “I like [Spencer] Dinwiddie, I like Jarrett Allen. I like the picks. But for Houston, you went all in on James, you brought in James, like his preferred players.”
When pressed on whether he’d make the deal as the Nets if the Rockets demanded Kyrie Irving in return, McCollum confirmed that he would.
“Yeah, for Kyrie I would do it,” he said.
Last year Harden and Russell Westbrook couldn’t get on the same page, and opinions are fairly split as to why. According to one report, Westbrook wasn’t a big fan of the culture instituted around Harden.
“Westbrook, sources say, has made it known for quite some time now that he would like to see significant changes to the Rockets’ culture,” the report noted.
“Specifically, his desire for more team-wide accountability, discipline and structure have been the focus of talks with team officials. Throughout the season, Westbrook was the consistent presence who kept Harden accountable and the two close friends had several verbal exchanges that sources described as ‘tense, but needed.’”
Things are getting interesting in D.C. https://t.co/HDttOQbckG
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 26, 2020
What it really boiled down to for Westbrook was “accountability” above all else.
“Westbrook has informed team officials that he has been uneasy about the team’s accountability and culture,” the report continued.
Others made the case that Rockets team owner Tilman Fertitta’s support for President Donald Trump ticked Harden off to the point where a long-term relationship with the franchise was untenable.
Yikes LeBron. https://t.co/EXINAEaMp0
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 24, 2020
It’s also very possible and likely that Harden doesn’t care about any of that stuff, and simply wants to play with his good friend Durant on a very stacked Nets squad.
Whatever the reason, what is clear at this point is that the Rockets won’t simply trade Harden away wherever he wants them to. They are going to wait and assess the situation, ultimately picking the best deal for themselves.
Will that deal end up being with Brooklyn? It is increasingly looking like the answer to that question is no.