As one of the best players in the modern NBA, and one of the top shooters of all-time, James Harden is a player who attracts media attention worldwide. And it is easy to see why; few players in the sporting world draw quite as much interest. A world-class shooter and shot creator, Harden has become the epitome of a franchise player in his eight years in Houston.
Harden was, after all, the face and the poster boy of the Daryl Morey era in Houston. Having built a team that essentially worked for Harden to ensure he had the maximum floor space possible; Houston has been living on borrowed time for a championship ring. With the 2019-20 season ending with a meek beating by the Los Angeles Lakers, H-Town has begun to tear up in the off-season.
Just about everything has changed around Harden this year, too. The coaching staff has changed, and Morey himself has moved on. So, too, has his backcourt ally in Russell Westbrook, traded to the Washington Wizards for John Wall. All of this flux, then, helps to create the perfect exit story for Harden. And with rumours linking him to a whole host of teams, it is hard to know where The Beard is going to turn up next.
One thing is for sure, though, Houston appears to be the last destination he wishes to stay.
Harden missing training camp, causing concern
The Rockets administration has been changed entirely, with new coach Stephen Silas describing the enigmatic star as ‘a holdout’. The story has caused a lot of controversy, as Harden was seen partying across various parts of the USA as the NBA began to move back into pre-season. With the majority of the Rockets team now practicing ahead of the season start-up at the end of the month, Harden is nowhere to be seen. Outside of social media, of course, where the Shooting Guard can be seen living it up with his off-the-court companions.
This is causing a lot of confusion among fans. Is Harden going to turn up? Or has he simply checked out of Houston and has no intention of returning?
With the likelihood of a trade growing by the day, we might find out more soon. Silas himself has done well to hide his frustration with the situation, but it is a nightmare situation for a young coach to be dealing with. Having tried to hide his annoyance at the lack of visibility from his most prominent (and expensive) star, it looks like that broke when he used the word ‘holdout’ to describe Harden.
Where can James Harden turn up?
Harden has been linked with a few teams, most notable the Brooklyn Nets. Rumours of a ‘big three’ with himself, Kevin Durrant, and Kyrie Irving will have Nets fans salivating at the prospect. But that isn’t the only opportunity that could exist here; we could see Harden reunite with his old friend Morey.
Morey is now in power over at Philadelphia, and the 76ers have their own dysfunctional roster issues to handle. There has long been an agreement, at least by fans, that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are not the perfect match for one another. That’s why stories of a potential trade to Philadelphia now make some sense. With Morey in place and the kind of system being built that would make sure Harden thrives, could we see him trade H-Town for Philly?
It looks likely in some ways. Philadelphia have the players to offer in a trade that might make Houston blink. They also offer Harden another chance to run it again with Morey, in a system that looks very close to working. Philadelphia were a major letdown in the previous season, but the recruitment of Morey and coach Doc Rivers changes the thinking around the team.
With Harden being such a major part of Morey’s projects in the past, though, could we see him rocking up as part of the Philadelphia rebuild? Experts and league sources certainly seem to point to this being a possibility.
Where does The Beard go next?
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In what looks to be one of the most exciting trade stories of the year, we could see Harden rock up in the bright blue of Philadelphia. With fans in Houston wanting clarity on what happens next, though, we could see some movement sooner rather than later. With Harden failing to turn up for training camp so far, it certainly does seem to point to the increased chance of a blockbuster, league-shifting trade.