James Harden Rumors: Rockets' Stance 'Has Not Changed' After Westbrook Trade

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 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

James Harden reportedly remains steadfast in his desire to leave the Houston Rockets despite the team trading Russell Westbrook for John Wall on Wednesday.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reported the Rockets remain equally committed to keeping Harden and remaining competitive in the 2020-21 season. 

Harden has expressed a desire to join the Brooklyn Nets, who have been aggressive in trade talks—albeit to no avail thus far. Westbrook and Harden both requested trades from Houston after a one-year reunion that apparently did not end particularly well for either party.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported Westbrook wanted a change of scenery where he could "be himself" on the floor. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Westbrook cited concerns with the Rockets' "casual culture" in the locker room, along with his issues with his role.  

The Rockets had Westbrook playing off the ball more than he was typically accustomed, essentially trading off "Harden possessions" and "Westbrook possessions." The result was one of the most ball-dominant duos in NBA history, featuring a constant barrage of isolations—albeit largely successful ones. Westbrook had one of the best stretches of his career in January and February, essentially abandoning the three ball for relentless rim runs.

Harden is under contract through the 2021-22 season and holds a player option for 2022-23, so time is on the Rockets' side. Wojnarowski reported the Rockets have sought out cornerstone talent in exchange for Harden—something Brooklyn cannot offer at this point.

It seems increasingly likely the Rockets will have to make an uncomfortable Wall-Harden partnership work. 

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