Will They, or Won’t They?

The James Harden Saga Continues

After a brief hold out from training camp to attend Lil Baby’s birthday and enjoy a few nights out on the town, James Harden reported to Rockets training camp. While he missed their first two pre-season games against the Chicago Bulls, he returned after each of his Covid-19 test results came back negative. Surprising… I know. When he did finally hit the floor in pre-season, he looked a tad bit out of shape, but nothing a few NBA games and getting back on a clean diet won’t fix. Albeit he looked like much of himself. The patented James Harden step-back three-pointer was still there. He still had his defenders on ice skates, and he was doing all the James Harden things we have seen in the past.

James Harden when he returned to the floor for the 2020–21 NBA Pre-Season

However, more reports have come out recently as to how poor of a teammate Harden was. He would make the team plane delay its takeoff because he was out doing god knows what. He would be late to film sessions which rubbed former teammate Russell Westbrook the wrong way, and he was just an overall poor locker room presence for a team that was looking to compete for a Championship. He truly is turning into a Dennis Rodman type of player off the court and it has not endeared him to his teammates, coaching staff, or front office in Houston.

While he is back with the Rockets as of right now… the question remains… ‘How long will the Rockets put up with his antics until he is shipped out of town?’

There have been numerous reports that he would like to be traded to one of a select number of teams. Those teams include the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76er’s. The Milwaukee Bucks after signing Giannis to his supermax extension, and trading away their inventory of future first round draft picks seem to be out of the running. Brooklyn obviously won’t give up Kyrie or Kevin Durant so that seems unlikely… That leaves us with the 76er’s and Heat as the frontrunners to land Harden.

It was reported earlier in the week that the 76er’s were willing to include Ben Simmons in any deal that would net them James Harden, but those reports were quickly rebuffed by new 76er’s GM and former Rockets GM Daryl Morey. Morey said, ‘We are not trading Ben Simmons — He is an important part of our future’ So it looks like trade talks between Houston and Philadelphia have stalled out.

The Miami Heat seem unwilling to let go of Tyler Herro for some odd reason… If I were the Heat and I could center a trade for James Harden around Tyler Herro, I would pull the trigger in a heartbeat. It appears the Heat are more willing to part ways with Duncan Robinson, but they would have to give up much more than him if they are going to land Harden.

As of right now, it is increasingly more likely that Harden will have to remain in Houston at least until this year’s trade deadline, or even after this year when he will only have 1 year, and a player option left on his contract. That would make him more enticing as there is no denying, he is an impact player, but the risk that comes along with having him on the roster may be too much. He is very ball dominant and plays little to no defense… Not to mention his off the court charades.

I do not see a deal getting done before the start of the regular season next week. However, I could see him being dealt to Philly or Miami at the trade deadline this year. It will all come down to what Houston is getting in return. It seems like they are more than willing to part ways with him, but they are looking to get a haul back from whatever team or teams are involved in the deal.

This will be a story to keep a close eye on as the NBA season tips off. I don’t think Harden will sit out games in protest of playing for Houston and cause more of a scene than he already has. It is a foregone conclusion that he is on his way out the door, the only question is where he will land and what will the Rockets get for him.

A Woj Bomb is in-bound so keep your head on a swivel. It could get even uglier.

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