James Harden and the Houston Rockets will have to wait for the trade market landscape to change. While Harden is a recent MVP, a First Team All-NBA guy, and a top-five player on the planet, no teams have jumped up with the kind of massive trade offer for The Beard that the Rockets expect. This isn’t the Anthony Davis situation where there was one suitor (Lakers) ready to go all-in to get their guy.
Why is that? Why is there not a line around the block of teams ready to make eye-popping trades for Harden. Sam Amick dove into that over at The Athletic and has some telling quotes.
The notion of a former MVP still in his prime being available would typically bring all 30 teams running, but the combination of Harden’s ball-dominant style, defensive reputation and personality appear to be tempering interest. Not to mention the fact that he spent the past eight seasons having his run of the place in Houston.
“It just f**** up your whole organization,” said one high-ranking official from a team that has pondered the Harden possibility.
“Harden is a terrific scorer, but not a champion,” said another front office executive. “He isn’t a two-way player and (he’s) hard to play with. …He is so used to getting his own way, I think there are concerns he can negatively affect a team’s culture.”
Add to that the fact Harden is 31, with a lot of hard miles on his body (on and off the court), and whichever team trades for him is going to have to re-sign him in two years to a massive new contract, and teams are hesitant.
As NBC Sports has reported before, the 76ers want to see how their shaken up roster, now coached by Doc Rivers, fares before making any major moves. Brooklyn thinks the same way, and doesn’t plan to split up Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Miami was a Finals team a year ago, it can be patient (if they move at all).
Harden and the Rockets need to wait for something to change. Maybe a slow start in Philadelphia has the 76ers reconsidering keeping Ben Simmons. Maybe a slow start in Brooklyn will have the Nets rethinking their plans to contend, or maybe a team not mentioned faces a slow start or injury that has their owner wanting to make a bold move. Many things could happen that would open up the trade market, add in the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo re-signed in Milwaukee and teams that are big game hunting may need to consider a Harden trade. He is by far the best player currently available.
But for now, the house Harden built is the one he’s going to have to live in.