James Harden Trade Rumors: Rockets 'Voluntarily Moving' Unlikely in Offseason

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2020

Houston Rockets guard James Harden during a break in action against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Rockets won 131-124.(AP Photo/Craig Lassig)
Craig Lassig/Associated Press

Regardless of how the Houston Rockets fare in the postseason, the team reportedly doesn't expect to willingly shop James Harden in potential trades. 

Per ESPN's Tim Bontemps, "voluntarily moving" Harden likely won't be an option the front office considers if the Rockets lose an early-round series.

Last summer, coming off another disappointing playoff loss to the Golden State Warriors, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was exploring every possible avenue to try improving his team. 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last May that Morey was "showing an aggressive desire to improve [the] roster with all players and picks available in talks."

Wojnarowski did note it was "hard to imagine" Harden being available in that scenario. 

Morey has been able to make two significant deals without including Harden. He acquired Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Chris Paul, two first-round draft picks and two pick swaps in July. 

Prior to the Feb. 6 trade deadline, the Rockets were involved in a four-team deal that landed them Robert Covington from the Minnesota Timberwolves. They sent Clint Capela and Nene to the Atlanta Hawks as part of the trade. 

With the Rockets all-in on a small-ball lineup this season, Harden's performance down the stretch will be the main focus for the organization. The eight-time All-Star is on pace to the lead the NBA in scoring for the third straight season with a current average of 35.3 points per game. 

Harden is in the first year of a four-year, $171.1 million extension he signed in July 2017. He will earn more than $40 million in each of the next three seasons, including a $47.4 million player option in 2022-23. 

Houston's 34-20 record ranks fifth in the Western Conference. The team has won at least one playoff series in four of the past five seasons, including two trips to the conference finals, but it's been unable to reach the NBA Finals since the 1994-95 season.