- James Harden has taken another step towards forcing his way out of Houston after Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers
- The former MVP is agitating for a trade away from the Rockets
- Will Harden end up on the Sixers? See the odds on all potential trade partners for below
Following a blowout loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, James Harden said the Houston Rockets are ‘just not good enough’. Houston is at +5000 in the NBA Championship odds and sit 14th in the Western Conference with a 3-6 record.
Harden will not only have angered the Rockets’ front office by weakening their negotiating position, he also irritated teammate John Wall. The Rockets are in disarray.
Trade rumors surrounding the former MVP are going to pick up after his comments on Tuesday – the Philadelphia 76ers, currently depleted by COVID-19 protocols – are the heavy favorites to land Harden.
Odds on Team to Trade for James Harden
|Portland Trail Blazers||+900|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+2000|
Odds as of Jan. 13th
Broken Rockets Relationship
Having tried to force his way out through not turning up and leaking a trade request, James Harden took a more direct approach on Tuesday. His comments after the loss to the Lakers were a crude attempt to push the Rockets into a trade.
Harden said, “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can, I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
He has no belief in the Rockets contending this season – Houston has been blown out by the Lakers in consecutive games. Harden scored a combined 36 points over those two games.
Wall: When you have certain guys that don’t want to buy in, it’s hard.
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) January 13, 2021
“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. We’re just not good enough – chemistry, talentwise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.”
John Wall was brutally honest about the situation in his post-game comments, too. Harden’s chemistry with his new teammates is almost non-existent, and he’s clearly not interested in developing it. The Rockets are under increasing pressure to make a Harden trade, but no team has come close to meeting their asking price yet. A trade with their former executive Daryl Morey, centered around Ben Simmons, still seems like the most likely route out of this mess.
News: There has been legitimate movement on the Harden front.
Brooklyn is prepared to offer *anyone* that Houston wants aside from Durant for Harden, as well as 3 1sts & swaps.
BK willing to make the same bet it once made on KG & Pierce, but on Harden.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) January 13, 2021
Harden refusing to play might be the next step he takes to push through a trade.
Joel Embiid carried the Sixers (again) on Tuesday. Ben Simmons fouled out and scored just five points, leaving Embiid to take over in the second half and overtime. After the game, the early MVP frontrunner said, “I can’t win the championship alone. I need my teammates.”
Embiid has had his fun in the media. He knows the impact of his every word. This specific quote was in reference to COVID-19 absences, but could it be a sly suggestion to make a trade? Has he had enough of Ben Simmons’ offensive struggles?
Perhaps Embiid and Harden are already in contact, trying to orchestrate a trade. The Sixers become immediate title contenders if they pair one of the game’s greatest ever scorers with the current version of Embiid, who is playing the best basketball of his career at both ends.
Way-too-soon MVP rankings 🏆
Sabonis, PG13, Jaylen Brown, McCollum
(via B/R’s @gt_hughes) pic.twitter.com/iBzrrZxIWH
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 13, 2021
Philly has the most obvious trade package for Harden. Others listed above might have to construct multi-team deals. Houston reportedly isn’t interested in a deal centered around Caris LeVert, for instance, and it’s fair to wonder if they’d even be interested in Kyrie Irving.
Taking Advantage of Embiid’s Prime
The Sixers’ good start to the year can be read two ways. It can be seen as evidence Simmons and Embiid to work together. Or it can be viewed as evidence that Embiid is at his peak and needs to be on a contender right now. The latter viewpoint suggests a win-now trade for Harden makes sense – a lineup of Embiid, Harden, Tobias Harris, Danny Green and Seth Curry would be unstoppable offensively.
Find the open man, get the open jam.
🤝 @statefarm pic.twitter.com/B5iTKBI3oR
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 13, 2021
There’s also the COVID-19 factor. With so many missing through contact tracing and positive tests, Morey saw what Embiid achieved with minimal help on Tuesday. Simmons is the same offensive player he was last season – his attempts to be aggressive on Tuesday resulted in multiple offensive fouls.
The Sixers still make the most sense as a trade partner. Morey and Harden’s relationship is clearly an important factor. For now, though, Philly is in no rush – they have been the best team in the league when they’ve got all their starters available.