James Harden, the Houston Rockets superstar, could be traded this offseason if the team receives a blockbuster offer for the all-star, according to league insiders.
Though the Rockets have built the franchise around the shooting guard, there are many within the organization who blame Harden for Houston’s dysfunctional team which finished with the eighth seed in the regular season before being bounced out of the playoffs by Golden State Warriors.
For Houston to even consider trading Harden, it would take a sensational offer that must include a top-3 draft pick packaged with an all-star. There’s a theory that Houston would prefer to get a younger star on a rookie contract, which would open up a lot of cap room for GM Daryl Morey to pursue other free agents. With Dwight Howard on his way out, the Rockets will have enough room to sign max player this offseason.
James Harden future depends on next coach?
With Houston set to hit the reset switch button, or blow up the squad, the decision could rest with the next head coach. According to one source, the Rockets front office isn’t keen on dealing Harden but could be forced to if the new coach deems necessary.
According to ESPN’s Mark Stein, former Rockets and Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy remains the frontrunner to succeed JB Bickerstaff as the next coach. Van Gundy, an old school coach who preaches a defense-first attitude, could be ticked off by Harden’s lack of dedication on defense.
Harden’s lackadaisical defense was a primary factor behind former coach Kevin McHale calling out the superstar before being shockingly fired 11 games into the season. In fact, there were plenty of instances during the season when Harden’s decision to take plays off on defense angered his teammates. ESPN Sports Center was forced to introduce a new segment which basically caught the two-guard napping on defense on several occasions during the playoffs.
Here’s a look at opponents’ offensive rating with Harden on and off the court:
108.4: With Harden on the court
107.7: With Harden off the court
+0.7: Houston’s net rating with Harden on and off the court
Last week, former Rockets forward Robert Reid accused Harden of being selfish. “Harden is a tremendous player, but he’s not bringing it for the team. I’m sorry, I’m just going to say it. Harden looks after Harden,” Reid told KHOU 11 Sports while addressing Houston’s primary concern.
Reid said the next coach would be under tremendous pressure to co-exist with James Harden. “The new coach that they bring in here is the one that’s going to have to say, ‘I’m the one who gets fired if we don’t win, not you. Do you feel lucky? Because your happy-jack behind will be at the end of the bench until you come to this game that we want to play.’
Should the Rockets trade James Harden and start a new era? Or should they stick with the Bearded One?