NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on James Harden, Russell Westbrook Trade, John Wall

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IDecember 7, 2020

NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on James Harden, Russell Westbrook Trade, John Wall

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    It's been an eventful offseason for the Houston Rockets, and there could still be more moves on the way considering the 2020-21 season doesn't get underway until Dec. 22.

    But even if the Rockets stand pat, their roster looks much different than it did at the end of this past season. Most notably, they have swapped starting point guards, sending Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards in exchange for John Wall.

    While there have also been rumors of James Harden getting dealt, the shooting guard remains in Houston for the time being.

    Here's some of the latest buzz stemming from the Rockets' eventful offseason.

Harden Interested in Move to Brooklyn?

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and...James Harden? That would be a formidable trio, for sure. But could it come to fruition?

    According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Harden has "expressed a desire" to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering Harden previously made it known he wanted to be dealt and there have been rumors about the Nets wanting to add another star player.

    It's unclear, though, whether it's a possibility. The Rockets would likely want a decent return for Harden, an eight-time All-Star, three-time NBA scoring champion and the 2017-18 NBA MVP. After spending his first three seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, he's taken his game to new levels during his eight years in Houston.

    For now, Harden remains with the Rockets. Although he's not physically with them. He missed Sunday's first day of training camp, and MacMahon reported that the guard didn't show up for his expected individual workout at Toyota Center on Sunday evening, but that he told the team he will report soon.

Westbrook's Trade Request Was Tied to Harden

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Westbrook and Harden were teammates in Texas for only one season, and it ended with the Rockets losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the second round of the playoffs. It may not have been a great fit to have both stars in the same backcourt. At least, that's what Westbrook believed, per a recent report by The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

    "League sources say Westbrook demanded a trade primarily because James Harden also wanted out of Houston but also because the duo didn’t fit that well together," O'Connor wrote.

    O'Connor added that as soon as Westbrook made it known he wanted to be dealt, the Rockets "searched far and wide" for a trade partner. And although interest was "limited," the three interested teams that emerged were the Wizards, Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. The Hornets drafted point guard LaMelo Ball, while the Knicks' interest later "fizzled," O'Connor reported.

    That led to Westbrook's arrival in Washington, where he will look to lead the Wizards to the playoffs after they missed out the past two seasons. And perhaps it will be a better fit for the 32-year-old point guard in Washington's backcourt, where he will play alongside shooting guard Bradley Beal.

Interest in Wall Was 'Muted' Ahead of Trade to Rockets

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    If Wall hadn't been traded to the Rockets, perhaps the Wizards wouldn't have ended up moving the 30-year-old. That's because there weren't many great offers on the table and interest in Wall was "even more muted" than the interest in Westbrook, according to O'Connor.

    O'Connor reported that Wall was "disgruntled" when it became public knowledge Washington could trade him. Then teams wanted quite a lot in return in any potential deal.

    "Any team that had even mild interest in acquiring him also wanted multiple draft picks as compensation, according to sources," O'Connor wrote.

    The Wizards ended up having to include only one first-round draft pick in their deal with the Rockets, and that selection is a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Considering the uncertainty about Wall, who hasn't played in a game since December 2018, it makes sense why teams may have wanted more in trade packages.

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