UPDATE: Nov. 16, 8:47 p.m. — Harden has made it clear to the Rockets that he wants out and the All-Star guard is focused on landing in Brooklyn, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Monday night.
After Woj dropped this report, Marc Stein of The New York Times is saying that the Rockets want to keep Harden and try and mend the relationship. Houston has control of Harden through this upcoming season, but The Beard can opt out of his contract by declining his player option for 2021-22.
Harden has apparently turned down becoming the first player to be paid $50 million per season and is adamant about playing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Rockets reportedly pitched an offer for Harden to sign a new extension on top of his current contract which would be worth $103 million over two years.
The Rockets and Nets have been in contact about a trade but there hasn’t been much progress. Brooklyn just dealt for Pistons G Bruce Brown earlier Monday. Perhaps that was in an attempt to acquire more assets to throw at Houston in a potential trade. Woj is saying that the Rockets want a massive return for Harden in a trade, which makes sense. Harden can become a free agent in 2022, so he views the move to Brooklyn as a two-year window to try and win a title with KD and Kyrie.
The rumor mill keeps on churning on Monday! The latest on the James Harden trade rumor front is that the Houston Rockets All-Star guard wants to play for a contending team, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania. There had been a report last week that Harden was intrigued by the idea of joining the Brooklyn Nets to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Nets — and Philadelphia 76ers — remain the top two potential destinations if Harden were to be traded. Shams also mentions that the Rockets are fine keeping both Harden and Westbrook into the season.
The Rockets’ offseason has been a glass-case of emotion to say the least. After losing coach Mike D’Antoni, the team parted ways with long-time GM Daryl Morey. Both landed, well, on the two teams that Harden is interested in playing for, ironically. D’Antoni is with the Nets as an assistant and Morey is in charge of the Sixers as president of basketball ops. The Rockets have little to no assets and basically no draft picks because of trades for Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook. Houston brought in new coach Stephen Silas, who may not be around too long if both All-Star guards jump ship and the team goes into a full-fledged rebuild.
Westbrook had made it clear last week that he wants to be traded. So far reports are saying that the market for Westbrook is very, very slow. That could pick up some steam as we approach the 2020 NBA Draft on Wednesday and free agency at the end of the week. We also could see, as Shams alluded to, the Rockets just keeping Westbrook and Harden around for another season and revisiting the idea of a trade(s) next offseason when things normalize a bit. The fact that both are on the super max and the salary cap didn’t go up makes it tough to move those contracts.