The relationship between James Harden and the Houston Rockets is continuing to deteriorate at an alarming rate. There was some hope that once the former league MVP arrived at camp and got the opportunity to play alongside the newly-added John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, he would soften on his trade demand.
Thus far, that hasn’t happened.
On Monday, ESPN NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne offered some insight into where trade discussions stood. Apparently, the Rockets want a young talent in exchange for Harden and someone like Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets would not suffice. That means, if a deal were to happen, a third team would need to get involved.
“For now, the Sixers are unwilling to include All-Stars Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in trades, and the Rockets are uninterested in a package primarily composed of the Nets’ complementary players and draft picks, sources said,” Wojnarowski and Shelburne wrote.
“The Nets aren’t interested in trading Kyrie Irving, nor have the Rockets expressed an interest in acquiring him, sources said. For starters, the Nets and Rockets would need to find a more palatable young player on a third team as part of a broader deal, sources said, and there’s no indication that prospect has gained any traction in recent weeks.”
According to Yaron Weitzman, the author of the highly-respect “Tanking to the Top,” Houston wants a ton in any potential trade for Harden.
“[Regarding] Sixers-Harden negotiations: I’m told the Rockets have asked the Sixers for 3 first round picks in addition to Ben Simmons,” he tweeted out.
“As many others have reported, the Sixers so far have been unwilling to include Simmons in any proposals.”
Interesting shirt choice by Katya Elise Henry. https://t.co/tPbxpgGkbI
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 14, 2020
Simmons alone is a tall ask for Harden, but asking for the 24-year-old and such a massive amount of draft capital is arguably completely unrealistic.
It goes without saying that Harden is obviously an incredible talent. Last year he averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists per outing while shooting 44 percent from the field, 35.5 percent from three and 86.5 percent from the free throw line. He would add immediate offensive firepower to any organization he joined.
That said, Simmons is seven years younger than Harden, made his first All-NBA team last year, and is under contract through the 2024-25 season.
Yikes Klay. https://t.co/xh2s7olPJs
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 12, 2020
As good as Harden is, he is also owed $41.3 million this season, $44.3 million next season, with a player option of $47.4 million for 2022-23. So his production comes at a hefty price.
With the way things are going, it feels like a Harden trade is something of an inevitability at this point.
Where will he ultimately end up, though? Time will tell.