James Harden and the Houston Rockets stole all the headlines at the beginning of the offseason, as their All-Star scorer demanded to be traded away from the team, going as far as to not show up to the first day of training camp while partying.
People around the league thought that Harden was going to be dealt before the start of the season, with the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers as his preferred destinations. The Rockets, however, showed no intention of moving him whatsoever and even did a couple of moves to surround him with more talent.
Harden reportedly added even more teams to his list of potential destinations but the Rockets’ stance hasn’t changed whatsoever. James, on the other hand, could eventually come to peace with the fact that he may be ‘stuck’ there until the end of the season at least, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:
“Though James Harden captured the entire league’s focus after demanding a trade, league sources question general manager Rafael Stone’s willingness to deal him this season. The Rockets have shown promise amid a 3-5 start —John Wall resembles his pre-injury self, Christian Wood is posting All-Star numbers, and even role players like Jae’Sean Tate are excelling off the bench,” the report started.
O’Connor added that, even though Harden still wants to be traded, his recent words about the team and the way they’ve played make people think that he could be buying into Stephen Silas’ system and the Rockets’ project:
“Front office executives around the NBA say Houston is growing more confident that Harden will be content to stick around at least through the rest of the season. Sources say Harden still prefers to be dealt, and losses like Sunday’s 18-point defeat to the Lakers won’t help Houston’s case. But Harden himself expressed optimism for Houston’s future on Saturday, telling reporters, ‘As long as we continue to find chemistry, we have a chance to do something special’,” O’Connor added.
John Wall, Christian Wood, and James Harden are more than capable of putting together a deep playoff run, even in the Western Conference. The team is built to win now and they’ve developed some nice chemistry, meaning that Harden could appease his desire to be traded, at least until the end of the campaign:
“Harden still wants a trade, but seeing how things play out in Houston has undeniable appeal. They’re building chemistry in Stephen Silas’s offensive system, which features more movement than the Rockets were accustomed to under Mike D’Antoni. Harden and Wood are already clicking in the pick-and-roll. Harden and Wall are still finding a rhythm together, but early returns are encouraging,” the report concluded.
At the end of the day, we’ll never know for a fact what’s going on behind closed doors around the league. But what we do know is that Harden is still under contract through 2023 so the Rockets don’t need to rush and trade him unless they get a package they feel comfortable within return.