An NBA team has hired a private investigator to gather intelligence on Houston Rockets star James Harden.
According to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, at least one organization has opted to take this extremely drastic measure in an effort to figure out whether trading for Harden is a good idea.
“Teams have already done their homework when it comes to Harden both on and off the court,” he wrote. “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.”
Early in the offseason Harden made it abundantly clear that he wanted off the Rockets. Initially, he demanded to be sent to the Brooklyn Nets. When Houston refused to oblige because they felt like the returning package wasn’t good enough, Harden softened his stance and said he would be willing to go to one of several other teams. Thus far, no deal has materialized.
As a result of the Rockets’ reluctance to grant him his trade request, Harden has been acting out. First he no-showed at training camp, opting instead to party in Las Vegas. Then when he did finally show up, he seemed out of shape. Less than a week later, he was spotted at a maskless get-together.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 23, 2020
Harden is obviously a tremendous 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, he comes with a hefty price tag. Harden is owed $41.3 million this season, $44.3 million next season, with a player option of $47.4 million for 2022-23. That is a big price to pay for someone who has the propensity to be a selfish diva when he doesn’t get his way.
One way or another, Harden will likely find his way onto a new roster this year. He is too talented for someone not to take a chance on him. But the fact that there is now so little confidence in his professionalism that private investigators need to get involved is telling.