NBA news have been pretty quiet with two weeks remaining until the start of the 2020-21 regular season. That obviously doesn’t include former league MVP James Harden, who has requested a trade from the Houston Rockets.
There’s several layers this story since the James Harden trade request became public record last month. First off, Harden remains away from the Rockets as they prepare for their first season under new head coach Stephen Silas.
His absence is against NBA COVID-19 protocols, especially given that Harden has been seen partying in multiple major cities when he should be taking part in virus testing and self-quarantine.
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NBA news: James Harden trade scenarios
Secondly, the Rockets themselves have pushed back against the idea of trading Harden. They want to see the three-time reigning NBA scoring champ commit to the team. Still under contract for two more seasons, Harden doesn’t necessarily have much leverage here outside of the off-court antics we’ve seen recently.
We now have more NBA news to focus on surrounding Harden, and it’s rather interesting.
NBA news: 76ers, other contenders not sold on James Harden trade
“The Rockets and the Sixers have had no substantive talks about a potential Harden deal, sources said. New Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager for the previous 13 seasons, has said he has no intention to break up the Sixers’ All-Star duo of center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon reported Tuesday.
It was noted earlier in the offseason that Philadelphia was interested in acquiring James Harden in a blockbuster trade with the Rockets. That makes sense given that Morey just ended his tenure as Houston’s general manager and has a close personal relationship with Harden.
However, other reports have suggested that the 76ers are not interested in moving either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. That came after in-season speculation that Philly could break up the star tandem. Most-recent NBA news suggests this is not going to be the case.
NBA news: Contenders want long-term commitment in any James Harden trade
“Teams would be reluctant to give up the assets required to get a player of Harden’s caliber without confidence that he would be willing to remain with that franchise when he can opt out of his contract following the 2021-22 season,” the above-noted report mentions. “Few contending teams have the ability to furnish Houston with the combination of assets that it’s seeking to consider dealing Harden.”
That’s the biggest concern here. Houston is said to be asking for one of the biggest hauls in an NBA blockbuster trade in recent history.
If a contending team can’t get a commitment beyond the next two seasons, said compensation heading back to the Rockets would be limited some. In turn, new Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is not going to trade James Harden on the cheap with two more seasons remaining on his contract.
The report from Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon is also interesting in that it notes James Harden is open to being traded to contenders. Prior to said note, he was looking specifically at the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
Recent NBA news indicates that the Golden State Warriors had put in a call for Harden. That came prior to Klay Thompson suffering a season-ending Achilles injury. It’s not yet known whether Golden State is still interested. However, the team does have the necessary assets to pull off a James Harden trade.
If the former MVP has indeed increased the number of teams he’d be willing to go to, a trade could potentially happen. At issue here is his off-court actions of the past several days coupled together with teams being weary about giving up too much in compensation to the Rockets short of a long-term commitment from James Harden.
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