Now that reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is locked into his supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA drama centers on Houston Rockets superstar James Harden.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne report that general manager Rafael Stone is exploring multiple trade offers from “playoff-caliber” teams in the hopes the Rockets can move the disgruntled former MVP.
ESPN reporting with @ramonashelburne: The Houston Rockets are increasingly expanding trade discussions on James Harden beyond his preferred destinations of Brooklyn and Philadelphia. Full story: https://t.co/pt6AByyywa— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 17, 2020
Harden has let it be known that he wants to move on from Houston. The 31-year-old prefers to be traded to either the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers, who were rumored to be willing to include former No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons in a deal to get Harden.
But, Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations Daryl Morey shot those reports down, saying Simmons is a part of the franchise’s future:
In response, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: “We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future.” https://t.co/W6T7HQjjoP— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2020
The Sixers Morey — who spent the previous eight seasons as the Rockets’ general manager — as their new president of basketball operations in November. Morey and Harden spent eight seasons together in Houston, where Harden won the NBA MVP Award for the 2017-18 season.
Harden is also interested in a potential reunion with his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant, who is now a member of the Nets. The major stumbling block between the Rockets and Brooklyn is that Houston isn’t high on the players the Nets can offer in a trade.
Woj added that more-and-more teams are willing to take a gamble on Harden, who can become a free agent after three more seasons. The three-time NBA scoring champion averaged a league-best 34.3 points per game last season while adding 7.5 assists per game.
Harden missed the beginning of training camp while he was away in Atlanta and Las Vegas for undisclosed reasons, although he told reporters he was spending time with trainers.
It would be tough for the Golden State Warriors to put together a competitive offer of first-round picks and young players, but SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell came up a potential deal that would see Andrew Wiggins, rookie James Wiseman and picks heading to the Rockets for Harden.
Which team do you think Harden will be traded to?