“[The Rockets are] just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise… 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.”
James Harden made it clear Tuesday: He still wants a trade out of Houston. The sooner, the better (something he reportedly told owner Tilman Fertitta over the weekend). Wednesday he did not participate in Houston’s practice, and he will be away from the team until a deal is done.
Which could come soon. The Rockets are ready to move on from Harden and are considering trade offers from Brooklyn and Philadelphia, reports Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Sources tell The Athletic the Rockets are sifting through offers on a potential James Harden from two teams — the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers — that could culminate quickly… The Nets have prepared a package to Houston for Harden featuring all of their four future first-round picks and three future pick swaps, multiple sources said.
Brooklyn has shown flashes of being a contender this season but is now just 6-6 with both Kevin Durant (COVID-19 protocols) and Kyrie Irving (personal reasons) missing time. That seems to have put pressure on the franchise to make a bold move. The Nets offer Harden a chance to team up again with Durant (they went to the Finals in Oklahoma City) and with his former coach in Houston, Mike D’Antoni (and assistant under Steve Nash).
The Nets would need to throw a lot of picks into a trade because Houston reportedly is not thrilled with a package of young players that includes Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and maybe the injured Spencer Dinwiddie. The picks were always the key to the deal with Brooklyn, but Houston has to consider where those first-round picks will be in the draft.
With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, the Nets would have the best trio in the league. Whether those players are willing to make the sacrifices needed to win, and if they will have enough talent around them, remains to be seen.
In the case of Philadelphia, the Rockets reportedly have talked about a deal centered around Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times. Sources told NBC Sports Houston also had a strong interest in Matisse Thybulle. Philadelphia management has been hesitant to throw Simmons in a trade, wanting to see how their stars fared together with a new coach in Doc Rivers and more shooting around them (Philly is 8-4 to start the season).
Houston, which fell to 3-6 on the season and was crushed in a set of games by the Lakers, feels the pressure to get something done as their season has started to go sideways. John Wall was blunt about the issues Tuesday night.
“When you have certain guys in the mix who don’t want to buy in, all as one, it’s going to be hard to do anything special, to do anything good as a basketball team…” Wall said. “We can’t dwell down on it because it’s only been nine games. Come on man, you want to jump off a cliff after nine games. It’s a lot of basketball still to be played.”
The question is, where will Harden be playing those games?