James Harden Trade Rumors: Rockets 'Determined' to Be 'Patient' on Asking Price

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2021

James Harden of the Houston Rockets reacts to a basket during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021, in Houston, Texas. (Carmen Mandato/Pool Photo via AP)
Carmen Mandato/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets are reportedly "determined to remain patient" while waiting for a trade offer for superstar guard James Harden that meets their asking price. 

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported the Rockets continue to seek a "young franchise cornerstone and a package of first-round picks and/or intriguing talent on rookie contracts" in exchange for Harden, who expressed his frustration after Tuesday's 117-100 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can," Harden said. "I mean, this situation is crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

Rockets governor Tilman Fertitta has "continually" told Harden, 31, he will be moved and he's given general manager Rafael Stone the green light to make a deal once he receives an offer that meets the standard they're looking for, per MacMahon.

The question becomes whether Houston has enough leverage to get the type of package it's seeking with the eight-time All-Star starting to become publicly disgruntled.

"We're not even close, honestly, to that team—obviously the defending champions—and all the other elite teams out there. I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games," Harden said. "We're just not good enough—chemistry, talent-wise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games."

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While the 2017-18 NBA MVP's scoring has dipped nearly 10 points per game from last season, he's continued to play at a high level for the Rockets. He's averaged 24.8 points, 10.4 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 threes through eight appearances.

Team success hasn't followed, though. Houston sits second last in the Western Conference with a 3-6 record and, while it's still early, making up ground in a conference with no fewer than 10 legitimate playoff contenders won't be easy.

The good news for the Rockets' front office is interest in Harden remains high. There are "more than a half dozen teams" in active conversations about the three-time scoring champion, per MacMahon.

In December, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the guard's list of preferred destinations included the Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers—all Eastern Conference teams that entered the campaign with high expectations.

So far, there's been nothing to suggest a Harden blockbuster is imminent, though. The team is back in action Thursday night to start a road back-to-back against the San Antonio Spurs.