After telling reporters, and the NBA universe, that the Houston Rockets “weren’t good enough” after being embarrassed by the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, superstar guard James Harden could be traded as soon as Wednesday to either the Brooklyn Nets or Philadelphia 76ers, per reports.
Houston plans on keeping Harden away from the team until a move is made, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, and Woj said talks had picked up steam even before Tuesday’s tirade.
Brooklyn could offer a combination of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince and an armada of first round picks and swaps, but Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly isn’t too interested in those Nets players, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. So a third team may have to come into play for Brooklyn to roll out a lineup of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. That is, whenever Irving decides to come back into the fold after missing the last week of action due to personal reasons and an Instagram video the league is investigating with him seen partying with family unmasked in New Jersey.
Lewis said a Harden-Irving swap “is possible,” though it seems like Houston is looking at other more plausible options.
Houston is pursuing a package from Philadelphia headlined by All-Star guard Ben Simmons and rookie point guard Tyrese Maxey, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, though they’d prefer to keep Maxey. Yahoo’s Chris Haynes adds that Houston would also want second-year defensive wing Matisse Thybulle from the Sixers as well. They’re also trying to find more draft picks to send to Houston, per USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt.
Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami and Portland are on Harden’s preferred trade list since he asked out of Houston before the season. He arrived to training camp late after being seen partying in multiple cities outside Texas.
Philadelphia is also interested in Houston’s P.J. Tucker as part of a Harden deal, Stein said, and other players like former Nets forward DeMarre Carroll could also reportedly be in play.
Harden is a 31-year-old eight-time All-Star and three-time scoring champ who’s making $41.2 million this season. He has an additional two years remaining on his contract after 2020-2021 at $91.6 million.