What Westbrook’s exit means for James Harden future with the Rockets
It’s unlikely that James Harden will sit out to force a move
If James Harden really wants out of Houston as soon as possible he could decide to sit out and see if management gives in. It has been suggested that Russell Westbrook was traded so quickly because he was a no-show for the start of Rockets’ training camp.
Would Harden take a page out of Westbrook’s book but, more importantly, would that same tactic work on the front office? The reason why sitting out won’t get Harden what he wants, a move to the Nets, is because Harden is one of the most valuable trade assets in the league and Westbrook was not.
When the Rockets acquired Westbrook they gave up a treasure trove of assets and Chris Paul to bring in the former MVP. Westbrook was good in Houston, he just wasn’t good enough for anyone to want to pay him close to $130 million for his age 32 to 34 seasons.
The Rockets trade with the Wizards that netted them John Wall and a first-round pick was not a value driven deal. Wall could be better than Westbrook over the next three-years of their contracts but that is far from the most likely outcome.
The deal was done to get Westbrook out of town as soon as possible. The move saddled them with an almost identical contract as the one Westbrook was on and while Wall is two years younger, he has endured a three-year stretch where he has played 73 total games, a number Westbrook has equaled or eclipsed two of the past three seasons.
James Harden is not on a negative value contract that the Rockets will want to dump just for the sake of getting him out of town. Harden could net one of the largest returns in the league and the Rockets won’t move him for anything less, even if it means that he’ll be sitting out.
To make matters worse for Harden, if he does want to leave, he has expressed interest in being traded to one team and one team only in the Brooklyn Nets. This move worked for Anthony Davis but it didn’t result in him being traded quickly.
Davis made his wishes known mid-season but wasn’t dealt until that next offseason and when he was finally moved the Lakers had to give up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and multiple first-round picks and pick swaps. The Lakers surrendered three talented young players along with picks, which is where the Nets would have to start.
James Harden can try and sit out but it won’t get him to the Nets. The first reason is, do the Nets really want Harden or is it that Harden wants the Nets? Second, would the Nets give up all of their depth to get Harden or would they keep their depth and swap him for Kyrie Irving?
Neither of those scenarios makes a lot of sense for the Nets because the one thing they definitely don’t need is another great scorer. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving might not be James Harden but they’re pretty close and the reality remains, basketball is played with just one ball.
If Harden wants to sit out he’d be making a massive mistake. The teams currently in the championship conversation have spent most of their future assets and the team he wants to go to doesn’t need or want him for what he’ll cost.
Harden can ride the pine all he wants but it won’t get him to Brooklyn and it probably won’t get him to a contender. The Rockets will wait it out because Harden is one of the most valuable trade assets in the league and the future of the franchise will ride on the return they receive for him.
Next: Will Harden play hard?