In three weeks, when the NBA season ends, James Harden will wear the jersey of…
The Houston Rockets. Probably. There’s still a lot of commercial buzz around Harden, including Golden State (more on that later), but his attempt to attract an Anthony Davis and work his way to a specific team – in this case, Brooklyn, to play with Kevin Durant – seems to have failed. (Partly because Davis was quickly coming up with a player option and could leave anyway, putting pressure on the Pelicans, where Harden has a few more years in the contract so Houston can be patient.)
While the buzz around the league is that Harden’s commercial discourse is more player-focused than team-driven, Durant has denied talking to Harden about joining him in Brooklyn. (Hat tip to ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth.)
KD on rumors he spoke to James Harden about playing for the Nets: pic.twitter.com/lIcCQEVOqz
– Cassidy Hubbarth (@CassidyHubbarth) December 1, 2020
“They make up these stories… I don’t know where it came from. James is a friend of mine, but I let the front office take care of that. I was so focused on my training. I heard all the noise and heard that James potentially wanted to come to the Nets. But anyone can make up stories, anyone can write a story and it’s getting popular.
Decide for yourself whether or not you think Harden and Durant talked about teaming up in Brooklyn. There is a lot of smoke, but Durant denies there is a fire. Either way, the parties are far from agreeing.
At least Golden State called Harden, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on the Complex Load Management podcast.
“I think several teams have inquired. The Warriors at one point made a call to James Harden… I heard that one a bit before Klay’s injury… But at the end of the day, if you don’t have the required parts, it is a moot point. Houston has the leverage. He is under contract for two more years.
Warriors guard Klay Thompson tore his Achilles during training at pre-training camp and is out for the season, which changed the Warriors’ outlook on the season.
That’s what good front offices do: call, talk, assess the situation and see if there is a crisis. It’s very hard to imagine how a Harden / Stephen Curry backcourt would work, and the Warriors aren’t loaded with the kind of young players the Rockets want to get back in a trade. A Warriors trade package for Harden would be something like Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Eric Paschall, three first round picks and two picks trades. It’s a hefty price tag that might not be enough, but it’s still worth a call just to get a feel for it.
On that same podcast, Charania said business demand for Russell Westbrook remained limited, but added that the Cleveland Cavaliers had made a call.
They spoke in Cleveland, I’m told … I’m told the Rockets wanted several more assets [for Westbrook]. Let this be temporary compensation. Young players. When you set the price that high, even for Russell Westbrook, if it isn’t hit, the Rockets are going to start this season well and play it.
Maybe they should be. In a more normal year, there might be a struggling mid-market or small-market team owner who would say, “Get Westbrook, he’ll bring fans into the building,” but this season there won’t be. no or few fans in the building everywhere. In this case, part of the motivation for taking three years, $ 133 million, is gone.