The relationship between James Harden and the Houston Rockets seems to be deteriorating more and more with each passing day. At this point, a trade feels inevitable. But where?
On Tuesday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel broke down a scenario which would land Harden with the Miami Heat.
“If the Heat were to entertain the notion of trading, there still would be the matter of enticing the Rockets and putting together the matching salaries,” he said. “Harden is at $41.3 million this season, $44.3 million next season, with a player option of $47.4 million for 2022-23.
“So, yes, the Heat could start with something along the lines of the 2020-21 expiring salaries of Kelly Olynyk and Andre Iguodala, plus Tyler Herro, and then filler, for Houston to get off the rest of Harden’s money,” he continued.
“But is that enough for Houston? And for the Heat, who have to be mindful of the hard cap this season, it would lock in their salary book for years to come. Plus, would Harden-Jimmy Butler be a match? And would Harden’s ball-centric approach dissolve Bam Adebayo’s uniqueness as a facilitator?
“There is a lot to assess when it comes to a Harden trade, even beyond what would be sent out. This is a precarious position for both Harden and potential suitors. Or he just goes to Brooklyn.”
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 – there are also some very real concerns when it comes to Harden. He has developed a reputation for being something of a quiet prima donna, and his behavior over the course of the offseason has been deplorable. He also displays poor practices on defense and may hamper the continued development of someone like Adebayo.
Gordon Hayward has a signature shoe and it’s inexplicably hotter than LeBron’s. https://t.co/GZ9rZiOdz3
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 9, 2020
Herro, who obviously isn’t the player Harden is at this juncture, has shown young Devin Booker tendencies. He could mature into a legitimate D-Book clone over the next few years, or he could regress and never reach that full potential. Including him in a possible deal for Harden is a move you make 100 times out of 100.
Along the same lines, acquiring Harden would absolutely destroy the Heat financially and prevent them from making any serious moves for years to come. However – this is exactly the type of scenario where you go all-in. When a superstar of Harden’s caliber becomes available, you risk it all and hope it ends well. Otherwise you’re facing another season of being arguably the third-best team in the East and seventh-best in the NBA overall.
If anyone can figure out a way to make a Harden trade work, it’s Pat Riley. Will he, though? Time will tell.