From Paul Kasabian of B/R:
Trade rumors surrounding Houston Rocketsguard James Harden potentially landing with the Brooklyn Nets swirled on Sunday, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reporting the latest alongside colleagues Ramona Shelburne and Zach Lowe.
“As Houston’s James Harden considers his future with franchise, one possible trade destination is rising to top of his list: Brooklyn,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
Wojnarowski, Shelburne and Lowe also reported Harden and Durant “have recently discussed the possibility” of a trade. The discussions came about as the two stars worked out together in Los Angeles, and they have talked “openly about whether the combination could work and how a trade facilitating it could work.”
However, there have been no trade discussions between the Rockets and Nets to this point. Despite the lack of talks, Wojnarowski, Shelburne and Lowe noted the Rockets have “privately made it clear that they would require a monstrous return of players, draft picks and pick swaps” in exchange for Harden.
Wojnarowski added that the Rockets, as of now, plan to keep Harden and “run it back” this season. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer confirmed Wojnarowski’s reporting on Harden’s status in Houston.
“Houston is indeed telling teams this,” O’Connor wrote.
“What Harden wants is a different story. Keep in mind that Harden himself wanted to join forces with Russ. If Russ is gone, what’s left: a season with a depleted, disgruntled roster and a new coach? In other words: a wasted year of his prime.”
The 31-year-old Harden led the NBA in scoring for the third straight season after posting 34.3 points per game for the Rockets, who lost to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals.
As O’Connor noted, the Nets certainly have the pieces (and draft picks) outside their star duo of Durant and Irving to pull off a trade with the Rockets.
“The Nets can offer pretty much whatever it takes to get James Harden, if they want to,” O’Connor wrote.
“They have all of their future firsts and the 19th pick this week. Plus a long list of talented young players: Dinwiddie, LeVert, Allen, Musa, Kurucs, Waller-Prince, Claxton and Luwawu-Cabarrot.”
Any move would ideally happen soon with the condensed offseason moving quickly into the new year.
The draft is Wednesday, and free-agency negotiations start Friday. The NBA season is set to begin Dec. 22.
The question is whether the Nets and Rockets get something done.
On Houston’s end, the Rockets are at a crossroads. They’re under new leadership with general manager Rafael Stone and head coach Stephen Silas, but they are inheriting a team that reportedly had some internal issues, per Sam Amick, Kelly Iko and Shams Charania of The Athletic. Those problems ranged from a reported lack of accountability to issues with playing time and contracts.
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Wojnarowski had also reported that Harden and fellow star Rockets guard Russell Westbrook had concerns about the team’s direction following the coaching and front-office moves. ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins also said on The Jump that Harden was not on speaking terms with Rockets leaders because they reportedly had not included him in the decision-making process.
Perhaps those reported issues lead to Harden’s exit before the season, but as of now, the 2017-18 NBA MVP is still a member of the Rockets with the NBA season roughly five weeks away.