How Bradley Beal hitting the market would hurt James Harden’s value
When everything is considered, Harden is still probably the better player over Beal but the difference between the two is not what it once was and as the years go on it will be Beal who surpasses Harden. Any team that trades for Beal or Harden will have to give up the farm and they will likely look to extend them after they exercise their player options in the summer of 2022 but because of Beal’s current contract and age, acquiring him is more palatable long term.
The simple rumor that Beal could be available will likely cause teams like the Nuggets and Celtics, who have young stars already locked up, to play the waiting game. A team that is built to contend three years down the line will be more interested in a player like Beal who fits their timeline better.
This won’t completely tank Harden’s value, as Beal hasn’t been publicly made available, but a team that is near the top of the standings won’t feel the pressure to make an immediate move for Harden knowing that Beal could be there at the trade deadline. However, teams that are struggling out the gate, like the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors, should be finalizing their trade packages for Harden so they can get in as many regular-season games with the former MVP as possible.
Harden will still secure a massive haul but the Rockets are now in a position where they cannot take every last asset a team has. If a deal that features a young star, like Ben Simmons, and multiple first-round picks materializes, the franchise shouldn’t try to play hardball but take their haul and build for the future.
The Rockets need to act fast and move Harden before Beal hits the market because every team that is interested in Harden will have an equal interest in Beal. The Rockets have so far been negotiating from a position of power, but if Beal hits the market the Rockets could be left out in the cold and forced into a situation where they get less than they deserve for James Harden.
The future of the Rockets hinges on the return they receive for James Harden. The franchise needs to be aggressive from here on out to secure a deal for Harden and in the process secure their future.