While James Harden‘s offseason trade request has dominated NBA headlines for the last month or two, league sources question how willing Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is to deal the superstar guard this season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
With the likes of John Wall, Christian Wood, and even rookie Jae’Sean Tate playing well, front office executives around the NBA believe the Rockets are becoming more confident that Harden will be comfortable staying in Houston for the rest of the season, writes O’Connor. The former MVP still prefers to be traded, but if the Rockets can build upon their early promise and improve their 3-5 record, he may not push quite as hard for a deal.
Here’s more from O’Connor:
- Teams around the NBA are keeping close eye on the 2-8 Wizards in case Bradley Beal grows frustrated and decides he wants out. Both O’Connor and John Hollinger of The Athletic suggest there’s a case to be made that Beal could be even more appealing as a trade target than Harden. Beal is nearly four years younger than Harden and has “a more malleable game” that makes him a great fit in any system, O’Connor argues.
- The presumed top suitors for Harden, including the Nets and Sixers, would also have interest in Beal, league sources tell The Ringer. The 76ers are a threat to acquire any available star player if they’re willing to put Ben Simmons on the table, but people around the league are more skeptical about Brooklyn’s ability to land a star, says O’Connor.
- O’Connor asked 14 executives which under-the-radar teams could be candidates to acquire a star player via trade, and six named the Pelicans — rival execs don’t necessarily expect David Griffin to hoard New Orleans’ excess draft picks for years, given how good Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson already are. The Heat, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, and Spurs also received votes.
- In case you missed it, O’Connor also said that Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is “firmly” on the hot seat, as we detailed earlier today.