Carmen Mandato/Associated Press
James Harden played in the Houston Rockets’ final two games of the preseason. However, it’s unclear whether he’ll still be on the team when it opens the regular season on Wednesday. And if he is, that doesn’t guarantee that he won’t get traded at some point during the 2020-21 campaign.
Rumors have circulated for weeks about Harden’s future after it was reported that he was requesting a trade out of Houston—just like point guard Russell Westbrook, who was dealt to the Washington Wizards earlier this month. A Harden trade hasn’t materialized as quickly, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one potentially in the works.
During an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Friday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Rockets have been “expanding their conversations beyond those two preferred destinations of Harden,” which were the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.
“They’re starting to gather more interest, we’re told, in both the Eastern and Western Conferences,” Wojnarowski said on the show. “… While Brooklyn and Philly are still potentially viable, I think the door is open to the possibility that James Harden could land somewhere other than where he specifically wants to play.”
And it appears Houston would like to get a deal done in the near future, as Wojnarowski added that the team is aiming to complete a trade “sooner than later.” It may even lead to multiple teams getting involved in a potential deal with the Rockets.
“They’re looking at scenarios, three-team scenarios, where perhaps a particular team doesn’t exactly have the player they want, but they can help go get that player in a bigger deal,” Wojnarowski said.
So, what teams could Houston potentially send Harden to? That’s still not clear. But it is beginning to become more clear which teams are unlikely to acquire the 31-year-old guard.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Milwaukee Bucks are “not expected to pursue Harden,” noting that he’s “not seen as a good fit” for the team’s culture. Amick also reported that the Miami Heat have shown some “serious skepticism” about trading for Harden, per his sources close to the team.
How about the Dallas Mavericks? Unlikely. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported that a source said the following about the Mavs’ interest: “No chance.”
Perhaps Harden will end up getting his wish and get traded to Brooklyn or Philadelphia. Or maybe another team will emerge as a suitor and give the Rockets an offer that gets the deal done. At this point, it still appears this situation could go a number of different ways.
But time is running out for Houston if it hopes to trade Harden before the season begins. Otherwise, the eight-time All-Star and former NBA MVP will be suiting up for his ninth season with the team this upcoming week.