If it wasn’t abundantly clear before, it is now: James Harden wants out of Houston.
Harden was transparent about his desires Tuesday night following the Rockets’ loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. While the eight-time All-Star made it clear he loves the city of Houston, he’s of the belief that his situation with the Rockets is beyond repair.
According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Rockets have had ongoing trade discussions with more than six teams. Furthermore, franchise owner Tilman Fertitta reportedly “has continually given Harden assurances that he will trade him.”
That doesn’t mean a blockbuster deal for Harden is imminent, however.
The Rockets’ front office reportedly plans to remain patient until its asking price for Harden is met. What is that asking price, you ask? A young franchise cornerstone and a package of first-round picks and/or intriguing talent on rookie contracts in return for Harden, per MacMahon.
Harden would not be a total rental if traded for. He’s under contract through the 2021-22 season and has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign.
The 2018 MVP would not come cheap either. On top of the haul a team reportedly would need to send to Houston, Harden will account for a salary cap hit of roughly $91 million over the final two seasons of his contract should he opt into the last year.
Harden’s talent is undeniable, but interested teams now must ask themselves if the steep price tag is worth paying for a player who has a tendency to be surrounded by drama.