Rockets Reportedly 'Intent' on Keeping James Harden Amid Nets Trade Rumors

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2020

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) argues a call during the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets reportedly plan on keeping James Harden even as rumors about his future heat up this offseason.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Rockets "remain intent on keeping" their star and want to "rebuild the team's relationship with him despite reports of Harden's growing discontent." 

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Harden turned down an extension offer of two years and $103 million that would have added to the remaining three years and $133 million on his current deal. Wojnarowski added that Harden is "singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets."

Despite Harden's apparent desire to join the Nets, Wojnarowski reported "Houston and Brooklyn have been in contact but so far haven't engaged in meaningful dialogue" in part because the Rockets are looking for a significant return package.

That follows with Houston's preference to keep him around, and Wojnarowski noted it can "slow-play the process" because he is still under contract for multiple seasons.

Still, things are changing for the Rockets. 

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported that Russell Westbrook wants to go elsewhere so he can "be himself" on the floor. General manager Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D'Antoni are no longer around either.

Staying amid so much upheaval would put even more onus on Harden to be the face of the franchise as a three-time scoring champion, eight-time All-Star and seven-time All-NBA selection.

About the only thing missing from the 2017-18 MVP's resume is a championship ring, and going to the Nets and playing with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would give him a golden opportunity to change that.

It isn't difficult to envision that trio winning a championship, especially coming out of the Eastern Conference, which doesn't have as strong of a top tier as the Western Conference's Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers and Denver Nuggets.

For now, though, it appears as if the Rockets will do everything they can to keep Harden around for the 2020-21 campaign.


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