The Miami Heat have been linked to James Harden for the last week after the former MVP added Miami to his preferred list of trade destinations. After talks about a potential Harden trade started to heat up, news about the Heat’s interest started to leak out even more.
With the NBA season four days away, the Rockets look to complete a trade “sooner rather than later.” The Miami Heat tip-off against the Toronto Raptors Friday night in their final game before the NBA season starts. The next four days may be the best chance for the Heat to land Harden.
Here are where things stand on the Miami Heat’s pursuit of a James Harden trade.
Miami Heat rumors: Team currently has the best offer on the table for James Harden
The Miami Heat have been in hot pursuit of James Harden since trade talks started to heat up with the Houston Rockets. It was previously reported that the 76ers are reluctant to trade Ben Simmons, which could make the Heat frontrunners to acquire Harden’s services. That was reported to be the case Saturday afternoon.
According to Five Reasons Sports Network’s Adam Borai, the Heat currently have the best offer for Harden and are still actively engaged in trade talks with Houston. This comes after a report from Borai that the 76ers asked for many players along with Harden for Simmons.
The Heat have been reluctant to include Duncan Robinson in any package and it may come down to whether they have to add Precious Achiuwa or KZ Okpala. An offer that has been thrown around is Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk, Andre Iguodala, Precious Achiuwa or KZ Okpala, and multiple future first-round picks. The Thunder have been thrown around as a third-team in a potential Harden to Miami scenario.
The Rockets are looking to complete a deal sooner rather than later, however the Heat could drag this out and hold out for a better deal.
Kendrick Nunn held out of the final preseason game due to a possible transaction?
Kendrick Nunn was held out of Friday night’s preseason game against the Toronto Raptors for what the Miami Heat listed as a groin injury. However, Five Reasons Sports Network’s Ethan Skolnick reported otherwise before the game Friday night.
According to Skolnick, Nunn sitting out of the Heat’s final preseason game may have been due to a possible transaction. Nunn put up 11 points, three rebounds, and five assists while shooting 5-of-14 from the floor in 32 minutes. Nunn also struggled behind the arc by missing all six of his three-point attempts.
Nunn being included in a package for James Harden could be very appealing to the Houston Rockets. Their backup point guard Chris Clemons tore his Achilles in one of their preseason games this year, which creates a void at backup point guard. Some Houston writers and podcasters have also said that Nunn could be appealing to the Rockets, even before the Clemons injury.
Nunn was the Rookie of the Year runner-up for the 2019-20 season and averaged 15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.3 assists with a 43.9% shooting percentage from the field.
Miami Heat rumors: Team could be frontrunners with the 76ers reluctant to trade Ben Simmons
The 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey came out with a statement Thursday night after it was reported that Ben Simmons was on the table in a potential James Harden trade with the Houston Rockets.
“We are not trading Ben Simmons—he is an important part of our future,” Morey told reporter Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
Another report Friday morning echoed a similar tone from ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski. On the show “Get Up,” Wojnarowski reported that the 76ers are reluctant to include Simmons in any deal that doesn’t get them more than Harden.
“Well, I certainly don’t think they’re trading Ben Simmons just in a deal that looks like it’s straight up with some picks for James Harden. I think they’re going to want a lot more than James Harden. That might not be a deal that’s available to the Sixers.– Adrian Wojnarowski
Wojnarowski mentioned how the 76ers would want another good player from the Rockets, such as P.J. Tucker. However, the Rockets are not thrilled with that scenario and would most likely want Simmons “plus a bunch more assets.”
Harden’s odds of being trading to the 76ers are not that strong, as Morey is interested in seeing how Simmons and Joel Embiid play with the currently structured Philadelphia team. This is good news for the Miami Heat when it comes to leverage in any talks for Harden.
The Heat are currently the only team on Harden’s wish list that has a clear opportunity to trade for him. The Nets don’t have a package strong enough to entice the Rockets to swing a deal and neither do the Bucks. Barring a change of heart from the 76ers, the Heat seem to be in a good spot for a potential trade.
The list of teams that could trade for the former MVP may be dwindling. Harden had the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks on his preferred list of trade destinations.
Duncan Robinson may be the “sticking point”
According to Five Reasons Sports Network’s Ethan Skolnick, the inclusion of Miami Heat guard Duncan Robinson is a major sticking point in the Heat’s pursuit of Rockets guard James Harden.
Robinson is one of the NBA’s best assets after he had one of the best pure shooting years of all-time during the 2019–’20 season. The 26-year-old guard out of Michigan has one year remaining on his deal and could earn a contract of around $18-20 million annually this offseason.
While surrounding Harden with one of the NBA’s top shooters would be amazing for the offense, Robinson should not be the reason why the Heat can’t complete a trade for the former MVP. Robinson will inevitably earn a pay-day this offseason and may not retain him depending on how much he is valued in the market.
It would be ideal for the Heat to keep one of Herro or Robinson. However, the likelihood of that is slim. The Rockets need a backup point guard since Chris Clemons went down with a torn Achilles, so Kendrick Nunn could be enough to keep Robinson out of the deal, depending on Harden’s market.
Tyler Herro is on the table for the James Harden
There have been conflicting reports on whether the Miami Heat are willing to trade Tyler Herro in a deal for James Harden. The 20-year-old guard out of Kentucky showed promise last season and has won the hearts of fans and people in the organization.
However, according to Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, the Heat do not view Herro as untouchable and would be willing to include him a reasonable deal for the three-time scoring title leader.
Herro averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists while shooting 42.8% from the floor in 55 games. The second-year guard impressed in Miami’s first preseason game with a team-high 17 points in 28 minutes.
A potential deal for Harden would center around Herro, other young assets, and multiple future first-round picks.
Stay tuned as more news and updates are provided.