NBA rumors: Top contender not interested in James Harden trade due to ‘cultural fit’

By Matt Johnson
Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) before the game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NBA rumors: As the NBA season rolls on, rumors surrounding a blockbuster trade for Houston Rockets star James Harden have slowed down.

The eight-time All-Star has kept expanding his list of preferred trade destinations, desperate to get out of Houston. Unfortunately for the former NBA MVP, it seems another one of his preferred landing spots doesn’t seem too interested in acquiring him.

Related: Most realistic James Harden trade packages

NBA rumors: NBA Finals contender views James Harden as bad ‘cultural fit’

James Harden first requested a trade in early November, emphasizing his desire to leave by turning down a record-breaking contract extension. While he initially insisted on being sent to the Brooklyn Nets, hoping to form a trio with fellow stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the list of preferred destinations has rapidly expanded.

Harden later added the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat to his trade list. After Miami backed out on their pursuit of a blockbuster trade, the six-time All-NBA First Team honoree put even more clubs on the list. Most recently, the Portland Trail Blazers, Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets were also disclosed to the Rockets as his preferred landing spots.

According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Bucks have no plans to pursue Harden. Multiple sources indicated the organization doesn’t believe Harden fits with their team’s culture, an issue just as significant as the cost itself to acquire him from Houston.

NBA rumors: ‘No chance’ this NBA Finals contender trades for James Harden

It’s not the first time one of the league’s top contenders has found acquiring Harden unappealing. While he is one of the NBA’s best scorers and capable of carrying a roster to the playoffs, he also carries plenty of baggage.

NBA rumors: Latest on James Harden trade, concerns from rival teams

NBA rumors: James Harden
Dec 28, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles up court in the third quarter against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Harden skipped practicesviolated COVID-19 protocols, and caused some issues in the Rockets’ locker room. Tensions have started boiling over in Houston and the situation is becoming toxic. Even with the unhealthy environment, a trade in the near future isn’t likely.

In Harden’s defense, he continues to play at an absurd level. Through two games this season, he is averaging 39 points and 12.5 assists per game. The 31-year-old is on fire right now whenever he pulls back to shoot. Entering Friday, Haden is shooting 50% from beyond the arc and 59.5% from the field. However, the Rockets lost both of those games and they coincidentally came against the Nuggets and Trail Blazers.

NBA rumors: James Harden trade not imminent despite bad environment in Houston

It seems a resolution to this saga isn’t any closer. Houston’s exorbitant asking price, with the Philadelphia 76ers required to trade Ben Simmons, plus and the Denver Nuggets being asked for Michael Porter Jr. and more key pieces, is pushing teams away.

The Heat have walked away from a James Harden trade, while the Bucks aren’t even interested in discussions. Meanwhile, the Nuggets, Trail Blazers and 76ers aren’t willing to meet Houston’s trade demands. With the suitors narrowing, it could make a move to the Nets more likely.

Related: Likeliest James Harden trade packages

Brooklyn just lost Spencer Dinwiddie for the season, creating a huge void for a team with NBA Finals aspirations. While the injury depletes their resources available for a trade, it could also make the Nets more likely to pull the trigger for Harden. With other teams backing away from the Rockets, they also might not have better options.