Report: Nets rising to top of Harden’s list of possible trade destinations

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) dribbles against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

As Houston Rockets superstar James Harden considers his future with the franchise, the Brooklyn Nets have reportedly risen to the top of his list as a possible trade destination, according to Adrian Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

The Rockets, Wojnarowski added, have been telling teams their intention is to “run it back” with Harden this season and, so far, there have been no trade discussions between Houston and Brooklyn.

The idea of reuniting with Kevin Durant — who Harden started his career alongside as members of the Oklahoma City Thunder — and joining Kyrie Irving is resonating with Houston’s superstar, though, Wojnarowski reported.

Harden having eyes for anywhere other than Houston would be a development that runs contrary to reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic from earlier this week, which indicated the Rockets’ franchise cornerstone is committed to the team and is “locked in” for the season. Prior reporting from ESPN also noted that Harden had expressed concerns about the direction of the team, stemming from the recent departures of former head coach Mike D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey.

Harden has been an All-Star in each of his eight seasons since joining Houston, winning MVP honours in 2018 and claiming the NBA’s scoring title the last three years. The 31-year-old has three years remaining on a maximum contract that owes him $131.5 million still — including a $46.9-million player option in 2022-23.

While a trade appears to be far from imminent, the Nets have multiple assets that could be included in a hypothetical move. The team has possession of all of its future first-round picks, the 19th overall selection in this year’s draft and talented young players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

The Rockets have been at the centre of trade rumours this off-season.

Earlier this week, Charania reported that Harden’s co-star, Russell Westbrook, wanted out of Houston.

The Rockets have been actively searching for trade partners, Wojnarowski reported, but that marketplace is proving relatively barren.

Westbrook, who was named league MVP in 2017, is owed $131.5 million over the next three seasons and holds a $46.7 million-player option in 2022-23, drastically limiting the field of available suitors for the polarizing all-star as the COVID-19 pandemic has left teams league-wide facing fiscal uncertainty.

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