NBA rumors: James Harden trade to Brooklyn Nets doubtful

By Matt Johnson
Dec 15, 2020; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden leaves the court after a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Mike Wyke/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

NBA rumors: Houston Rockets star James Harden is the subject of trade rumors before the 2020-’21 NBA season, with the eight-time All-Star wanting to find a new home. With the regular season drawing closer, the trade winds around Harden have shifted once more.

After getting blasted by his new coach at the start of preseason preparation, Harden finally returned to Houston following days of partying. With the 31-year-old former NBA MVP still demanding a trade, with a strong preference for his landing spot, it seems Harden might not get his way.

Related: Most realistic James Harden trade scenarios

NBA rumors: NBA teams ‘extremely skeptical’ Brooklyn Nets trade for James Harden

From the moment the basketball world knew James Harden wanted out of Houston, NBA rumors centered on his desire to play for the Brooklyn Nets. Seeking the best opportunity to win an NBA championship, Harden believes his shot would be joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

While Brooklyn is his dream spot, he might need to start preparing for alternative destinations. Multiple team executives from across the league are growing extremely skeptical that a trade to the Nets happens, per The Athletic’s Sam Amick.

If the Rockets were rebuilding, a trade with the Nets might make more sense. Brooklyn’s best trade package would likely include Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen. In addition, Nets general manager Sean Marks may need to attach future first-round picks.

That’s not what Houston wants. The team’s asking price for a trade is through the roof, with the front office demanding a star-caliber, young player in return. The Nets don’t have anything of that nature to offer up, barring a three-team trade. So, unless the Rockets suddenly lose a lot of leverage or lower the return price, Harden likely won’t be traded to Brooklyn.

It seems that point is starting to become clear to Harden, who has revised his trade list to include other contenders. With that said, it might be a while before we see any blockbuster deal.

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NBA rumors: Philadelphia 76ers likely to wait on James Harden trade

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Harden has expanded his trade list, including the Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks as his preferred destinations. Unfortunately, at least for Harden’s desire for an early exit, the latest on that front isn’t promising.

With Giannis Antetokounmpo signed to a supermax contract and Jrue Holiday due for an extension, Milwaukee might be content to roll with its current roster. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, there seems to be a similar sentiment.

According to The Athletic, the Sixers want to see how the new system from head coach Doc Rivers works and if this team can really put it together quickly. The organization is already excited, and there is a lot of buzz with the preseason coming to a close. Especially given Houston wants Ben Simmons back in a trade, Philadelphia seems poised to wait until something drastic changes on the Harden front.

Things could always go south in Houston. While the Rockets hold the leverage and Harden is playing along, NBA rumors have indicated that things might be at a breaking point. If things get ugly, Houston will lose leverage in negotiations with Harden’s preferred teams (Nets, 76ers).

Related: Can John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins lead Houston in a post-Harden era?

For now, the Rockets will head into the regular season with Harden leading this squad. The team might be even better than last year, following the additions of DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Christian Wood. Whether Harden stays or is traded for assets, Houston has a good shot at the NBA Playoffs.