James Harden is not thinking about sticking around the Rockets for the season.
After the Rockets got their doors blown off by the Lakers 117-100 Tuesday night in a game that wasn’t that close, Harden went to the podium and made sure everyone knows he still wants to be traded. Sooner rather than later.
“[The Rockets are] just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear…
“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
Still think he wants to spend the year in Houston?
Harden trade talks have been stalled since the start of the season, according to both sources and other reports. The dynamics have not changed. The Rockets want a haul worthy of sending out an MVP and three-time scoring champion — a franchise cornerstone-level younger player, three first-round picks, and more (depending on the quality of player and picks). Nobody is close to offering that right now. Unlike the Lakers with Anthony Davis, in Harden’s case there is no one suitor desperate to have him and willing to give up what it takes to get the deal done.
It doesn’t help that Harden is 31, has struggled to play nice with Dwight Howard then Chris Paul then Russell Westbrook, showed up this season out of shape, has had the run of the culture in Houston for years, and in two years whatever team trades for him is going to have to give him another max contract.
Harden’s last five games:
39.7 FG %
5 or fewer FTA in four of those five games
None of it is anywhere near typical Harden standards … whether that’s a byproduct of the team’s overall struggles, his desire to leave, suboptimal conditioning or factors unknown
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 13, 2021
Houston is trying to wait out the market, hoping that Philadelphia (with a deal based around Ben Simmons) or Miami or Brooklyn — or, frankly, any team — would step forward with an offer it thought reasonable. The hope was that early-season struggles would have one team getting desperate and upping their offer. It’s very early, but so far that team has not existed.
The Rockets were reportedly willing to get uncomfortable to wait for the right Harden trade. Welcome to uncomfortable, Houston.