The Houston Rockets and their fans went through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.
Now they have come around to acceptance that they will have to trade James Harden. Just don’t expect the Rockets’ front office to rush the process or necessarily send Harden where he wants to go if another team steps up with a better offer.
“The sense I get from the Rockets is that their ambition, their goal, their hope is no longer about salvaging the relationship with James Harden and kind of getting him on board. There’s a realization, you know, his mind is made up. He wants out and there is a determination to say ‘Okay, we get it. This happens in the NBA, but just because James Harden wants out doesn’t mean he gets to dictate where and for what [he’s traded]…
“Harden doesn’t get to say where he’s traded and basically force the Rockets to take a package that is 60 cents on the dollar for a perennial MVP candidate. I think what the Rockets are doing right now is they’re prepping for the post-Harden rebuild.”
Houston expects a HAUL in this deal. If trading Jrue Holiday can net the Pelicans two veteran rotation players (Eric Bledsoe and George Hill), three first-round picks, and two pick swaps, what is Harden worth?
The question is, will any team come in and bid against the Nets, knowing that they would have two years to convince Harden to stay or he could walk? Until some team does, the Nets can try to lowball the Rockets. Is Houston willing to go to training camp with Harden because they cannot find a trade partner?
This game is going to play out for a while; don’t expect a quick resolution.