Harden wants to quit Rockets, prefers Nets or 76ers

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In the wake of a disappointing post-season, all does not seem to be going well in Houston.James Harden, the cornerstone of the team’s franchise, would like to play for a contender elsewhere, selon shams charania from Athletic. Harden’s favorite destinations are believed to be the Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers, Charania noted.

Charania’s reporting corroborates an earlier story of the Houston Chronicle, which indicated that Harden wanted to move on and was trying to work his way through trade to the Nets.

Brooklyn emerged as a team Harden had their eyes on last night, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne reported that the Nets had reached the top of their roster as a possible business destination. The idea of ​​reuniting with Kevin Durant – who Harden started his career alongside the Oklahoma City Thunder – and joining Kyrie Irving resonated with the Houston superstar, Wojnarowski reported.

However, last night the Rockets reportedly told the teams their intention was to “go back” with Harden this coming season, without formal talks between the Rockets and the Nets.

Harden’s desire to play elsewhere comes shortly after reports surfaced that his Rockets co-star Russell Westbrook also “wanted” to leave Houston.

In the final offseason, the Rockets acquired Westbrook to team up with Harden – sending Chris Paul to the Thunder, along with their 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, and the right for the Thunder to trade the top 10 with them. protected choices. in 2021 and 2025.

But Houston failed to make a dent in the playoffs, losing in five games to the eventual Los Angeles Lakers champion in the second round, as Westbrook struggled to get rid of rust and injuries afterwards. his return from a tense right quadriceps. Since then, the Rockets have parted ways with head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey, a pair of moves that would have led Harden and Westrbook to question the direction the team is taking.

The Rockets are actively seeking business partners, Wojnarowski reported, but this market is proving relatively barren.

Westbrook, who was named the league’s MVP in 2017, owes $ 131.5 million over the next three seasons and holds a $ 46.7 million option in 2022-23, severely limiting the number of contenders Available to Polarizing All-Star as COVID-19 The pandemic has left teams across the league facing budget uncertainty.

The challenge of relocating Harden would likely have a lot less to do with the money owed to him, and a lot more to do with finding an acceptable return on his unique talent in a generation.

Brooklyn has several assets that could be included in a hypothetical move. The squad have all of their future first-round picks, the 19th overall in this year’s draft and intriguing players with varying degrees of rise like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen. Probably Philadelphia’s easiest path to acquiring Harden would be to part ways with its own superstar creator, Ben Simmons.

Houston, of course, has no obligation to accommodate Harden’s preference to play in Brooklyn or Philadelphia. The 31-year-old has three years left on a max contract that still owes him $ 131.5 million – including a $ 46.9 million player option in 2022-23 – giving the Rockets more leverage than s ‘he was on an expiring contract and able to threaten to leave on free will.

To that end, an exchange seems far from imminent and one can look to this year’s Hall of Fame inductees for examples of generational talent who – at the very least – were considering moving on when they were not satisfied with the direction of their teams, to stay in place.

A year after winning the NBA Finals in 1999, the San Antonio Spurs and their aging core faded in the first round against the Phoenix Suns. This offseason, Tim Duncan almost signed with the Orlando Magic to form a super team with Grant Hill and Tracey McGrady. Duncan ended up staying and won four more championships with San Antonio.

Kobe Bryant, whose very name conjures up the image of the purple and gold Lakers, has almost walked away from the Los Angeles Lakers more than once. In 2007, after consecutive outings in the first round, Bryant would have demanded a trade with the Detroit Pistons. Three years ago, with the end of the Shaq-Kobe era looming, Bryant was so close to joining the Chicago Bulls in a signing-and-trade deal that he told the Chicago Times he was “watching the houses” . He stayed both times, of course, and won back-to-back titles with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

Harden may be about to come out. Or, this dissatisfaction can prove to be a red flag for the franchise that reinforces how critical its next moves are. Either way, his situation is far from the only one making waves across the NBA.

Paul goes to Phoenix – a team that could have been on VanVleet

On Monday, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Phoenix Suns reportedly finalized a deal that would send Chris Paul to Phoenix.

In itself, the move upsets the image of the Western Conference playoffs. Despite being 35 now, Paul remains one of the NBA’s best point goalies. Last season in 70 games with the Thunder, he averaged 17.6 points and 6.7 assists per game while shooting 49% from the field. For his efforts, he was named to the All-NBA Second Team.

The Suns were already knocking on the postseason door, as evidenced by their 8-0 run in the Orlando bubble, and pairing Paul with outgoing star Devin Booker could push them to the top. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted, a logical next step for the Suns in utilizing their remaining ceiling space would be to focus on their own free agents: Dario Saric and Aaron Baynes.

But the reported deal also has an impact on the Eastern Conference.

Phoenix was believed to be one of the teams chasing Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet in free agency. By acquiring Paul, they both appear to have passed the cap that could have been used to sign VanVleet and met the need to find a stable co-star for Booker.

That leaves the list of reported contenders for VanVleet as the Raptors, Detroit Pistons, and New York Knicks.

The Knicks, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, will rely on free agency or the commerce market to find their starting custody 2020-2021. If New York turns down all of their team options for next season, they’ll only have $ 65million on their books, leaving them $ 44million under the cap.

That would give them more money to potentially offer VanVleet than the Pistons or Raptors if they chose to. The Knicks have also been linked with Westbrook, which is said to consume the majority of that available ceiling space.

“I’m trying to get paid, man,” VanVleet said when asked about the topic recently on The Old Man & the Three, a podcast hosted by New Orleans Pelican Guardians JJ Redick. and Tommy Alter. “I’m not shy about it. I don’t need to tell people that I appreciate winning. Just look at my story, do some research. I’ve never been on a losing team in my entire life. This is what I am. And that is exactly what it is. I won a championship and now it’s time to cash out. “

Lavine could be obtained via trade

While there are no reports that he is actively buying, NBA teams believe Chicago Bulls goalie Zach LaVine could be acquired through trade, according to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo.

The possibility of moving LaVine has to do with the Bulls’ willingness to draft LaMelo Ball if he runs into them with the fourth overall pick in Wednesday’s draft, but Ball is widely expected to be drafted in the top three – and potentially as high as No 1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

LaVine has spent the past three seasons in Chicago after being the centerpiece of Minnesota trade for Jimmy Butler, averaging 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists last year while shooting 38%. on three.

Rondo is done with LA and Bradley can be too

After winning a championship with them this summer, Rajon Rondo appears to be moving away from the Los Angeles Lakers.

The playmaker has reportedly turned down his $ 2.62million player option for next season, according to Brad Turner du Los Angeles Times.

Turner went on to note that the Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks were likely candidates to pursue Rondo’s services in free agency.

He may not be the only member of the Lakers to travel elsewhere this offseason. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Avery Bradley is expected to be courted by several contenders, including the Golden State Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks.



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