Miami was said to be among Harden’s preferred landing spot, and a report earlier this month indicated the Heat would be open to exploring the possibility of a deal. However, Winderman hears that the discussions were “never more than cursory.”
The Heat had some interest, but not at the Rockets’ asking price, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson adds (via Twitter) that one high-ranking Heat official had “strong interest” in a deal and that the team might re-engage if Houston lowers its asking price. For now, Miami is standing firm.
As Winderman points out (via Twitter), the Heat have taken this approach before, shutting down trade discussions on a potential target once the regular season begins — they did so with Jimmy Butler right before the start of the 2018/19 campaign, preferring to push that speculation aside once the season tipped off. Butler eventually made his way to Miami in the 2019 offseason after being traded from Minnesota to Philadelphia during the season.
In order to realistically have a shot to acquire Harden without giving up Butler or Bam Adebayo, the Heat would have to gut their supporting cast, likely including veterans like Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk for salary purposes and then sweetening their offer by including young players like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and/or Kendrick Nunn, along with future draft picks.
The inclusion of Robinson in a potential deal was said to be a sticking point, though it sounds like the Heat and Rockets may not have gotten far enough in their talks to seriously haggle over specific aspects of an offer.
The Rockets have also had Harden discussions with the Nets, Sixers, and Nuggets, among other teams, says ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Denver isn’t believed to be among Harden’s preferred destinations, but could put together an interesting trade package for a star player.