Since word broke that James Harden was hoping for a trade out of Houston, reports have indicated that the Rockets are hoping they can convince him to reconsider his position and make roster moves that show him the team can still contend for a title. However, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon suggested during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast that the team’s commitment to that position may be wavering.
“The sense I get from the Rockets is that their ambition, their goal, their hope is no longer about salvaging the relationship with James Harden and kind of getting him on board,” MacMahon said (hat tip to RealGM). “There is a realization that his mind is made up. He wants out and there is a determination to say ‘Okay, we get it. This happens in the NBA, but just because James Harden wants out, doesn’t mean he gets to dictate where and for what.'”
As MacMahon explains, even if the Rockets are no longer confident that Harden can be convinced to spend the rest of his career in Houston, that doesn’t mean the team will make a trade as soon as possible to send him to his preferred landing spot in Brooklyn.
MacMahon, who suggested last week that Houston is “willing to get uncomfortable” with Harden and Russell Westbrook, told Windhorst that the club would be seeking a young potential franchise player and a Jrue Holiday-esque package of draft picks in any deal for Harden. And the Rockets are prepared to be patient in the hopes of having that price met, if not by the Nets then perhaps by the Sixers or another club.
“What they’re saying is, ‘Look, we’re not going to be rushed into this,'” MacMahon said. “… They’re saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to have to come to camp, you’re probably going to have to start the season.’ At this point, the Rockets have to be willing to listen. They understand that at some point they’re going to have to make a trade. But it’s not when he has two years plus a player option on his deal.”
As for Westbrook, MacMahon said there’s “not a fit for him that makes any kind of sense” on the trade market for now. The Rockets’ hope is that Westbrook will start the season with the team, show he’s healthy, and potentially increase his value, per MacMahon.