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James Harden turned down record contract before requesting trade

Dec 28, 2019; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles the ball during the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Rockets guard James Harden wants out of dodge. That much is already known. We’re now hearing reports that the former NBA MVP is angling for a trade to the Brooklyn Nets.

There’s also a backdrop here. It includes Houston offering Harden what would have been the richest per-annual contract in NBA history.

James Harden turned down contract that would have paid him $50 million annually

“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,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday evening.

Playing under a four-year, $171.1 million contract, money does not seem to be the issue for Harden here. Rather, it’s all about contending for a championship. James Harden seems to think those days are far gone in Houston.

“Harden believes his window to chase championships in Houston has ended, and constructing a super team with the Nets represents his best pathway to a title,” the report read.

Houston reportedly offered Harden a two-year, $103 million extension that would have added years to his current deal.

However, both head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey moving on from the Rockets following another premature playoff exit seems to be playing a role in Harden’s decision to turn down said contract offer.

What would a James Harden trade to the Nets look like?

Philadelphia 76ers rumors: James Harden trade?
Sep 10, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after getting called for a foul in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Given Harden’s $41.26 million cap hit for the 2020-21 season, there’s not a lot of avenues that could lead to a deal without Brooklyn sending Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and cap fillers to the Rockets. All things equal, that would be a pretty darn solid deal for Houston.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Rockets, check out #RocketUp rumors, rankings, and news here

As for the Nets, acquiring James Harden to team up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would make them an instant title contender. A move of this ilk is something Nets general manager Sean Marks has been considering for some time now.

Harden, 31, has led the NBA in scoring each of the past three seasons. That span has seen the former MVP average 33.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 7.9 assists on 45% shooting from the field.

Among the other teams interested in James Harden, the Philadelphia 76ers are also seen as a top-flight contender for his services.

Stay tuned!