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The only way the Houston Rockets would send James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets is if Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving was a part of the deal, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Thursday.
Harden has let the Rockets know that he would like to be traded away from the franchise that saw him develop into a superstar, listing the Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks as teams he would prefer to be dealt to.
The eight-time All-Star is currently in Houston complying with the league’s coronavirus testing protocols after holding out of the start of Rockets training camp. He instead celebrated the 26th birthday of rapper Lil Baby in Atlanta and Las Vegas.
His communication with the Rockets has been inconsistent, but he is expected to work out in front of team personnel soon, according to Charania.
Harden’s dissatisfaction stems from Houston’s apparent abandonment of contending for an NBA title. This offseason, they’ve parted ways with head coach Mike D’Antoni, general manager Daryl Morey, and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall.
The 31-year-old has been linked with the Nets since November, with some reports even suggesting that the two teams came to a verbal agreement on a deal.
With three years and over $130 million remaining on his current contract, Harden would call for a mammoth return from any possible trade suitor. He’s one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the game, leading the league in scoring in each of the last three seasons with an average of 33.7 points per game during that stretch.
Dealing either Durant or Irving would be a longshot for the Nets, even if it yielded a talent like Harden’s. Both All-Stars opted to sign with Brooklyn during the summer of 2019 but have yet to play together. Durant was recovering from a ruptured Achilles suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals while he was with the Golden State Warriors. Meanwhile, Irving was limited to just 20 games in his debut season with the Nets due to a litany of injuries.
Just with their arrivals, the Nets are one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference.