Why the Rockets haven’t traded James Harden yet

James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

With Houston Rockets general manager Rafael Stone remaining firm in his asking price of James Harden, there are several reasons why this is the right move.

By now you probably know that James Harden wants to leave the Houston Rockets, as it’s been one of the main talking points in the media regarding the team. Harden initially requested a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, with his sights set on forming a super trio with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Since then, Harden has modified his request several times, as he’s added the Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, and Portland Trail Blazers, in hopes of increasing the likelihood of a deal happening. In spite of Harden’s persistence of getting out of Houston, the Rockets haven’t given in to his demands, as Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has remained firm on his asking price for The Beard.

On Sunday night, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle explained exactly why Stone and the Rockets front office haven’t dealt the star guard yet, on Texas Sports Nation.

“The Rockets have said all along, if we’re going to trade him, we want our price.

The reason they can say that is because they’ve had confidence that when the lights come on and when it’s time to play a game, or even to practice, he shows up. He does compete.

And then the other word that I think people would laugh at. He’s a professional.

And people would say, wait a minute. This is the guy that went out to party during the pandemic and got popped by the NBA for a fine in a quarantine.

Yeah, but the way he works, the way he trains, the way he practices. Guys come in here when they get traded and they talk to me about that.

Like, man, you should see him in the weight room doing heavy lifting. After practice, he’s running the stairs.

The Rockets, of course, know all of this. So they’ve been willing to say, let’s bring him into the season, we’ll trade him when we want to trade him, because we don’t feel like we have to trade him, and [Saturday night] was an example of why.”

Why the Houston Rockets haven’t traded Harden yet

Harden’s performance on Saturday night against the Blazers is a testament to the work ethic that Feigen alluded to, as he played 43 minutes after being out of action for nearly a week, due to the league’s COVID protocol, after he attended a birthday party at a club.

The Rockets have made it clear that they’re expecting a young, franchise cornerstone in exchange for Harden, not to mention a bevy of draft picks as well, which rules out many of the teams on Harden’s list. But with the Rockets’ opening performance on a short-handed crew, Harden’s best bet is to commit to the franchise, at least for this season, as the ramp up will be immense during a truncated season.

Should Harden still want to leave the Rockets?. Next

The Rockets may ultimately make the decision for Harden, if they simply hold on to him and don’t give in to his demands, which is the route they appear to be taking. This approach could also be beneficial as it pertains to improving his value, and especially after his 44-point, 17 assist performance against Portland.