Despite failing to achieve their main goal last season, the Houston Rockets are likely planning to run it back again with James Harden next year. Unfortunately for the Rockets, it seems like “The Beard” is no longer interested in being the face of the franchise. Without a clear path to title contention, rumors are circulating that Harden is strongly considering following the footsteps of Anthony Davis, who left the New Orleans Pelicans last summer to chase his first NBA championship title with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Harden is currently having an “AD moment,” believing that the “best pathway” for him to win a title is to join forces with former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020-21 NBA season.
“Harden believes his window to chase championships in Houston has ended, and constructing a super team with the Nets represents his best pathway to a title, sources said. Harden can become a free agent in 2022 if he opts out of the final year of his contract — and sources said Brooklyn represents a two-year play to win a title before deciding on the next steps in his career. This has been described by one source as ‘his AD moment,’ in reference to All-Star Anthony Davis who forced his way out of New Orleans for the opportunity to win a title with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
It’s hard to blame Harden for feeling that way. The Rockets have indeed done plenty of things to help “The Beard” bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Houston, but during their eight-year partnership, their greatest achievement was reaching the Western Conference Finals where they got eliminated twice by the Golden State Warriors. With Harden already on the wrong side of 30, it might be best for him to leave the Rockets and chase his first championship ring somewhere else.
So far, the Rockets are still doing everything they can to convince Harden to stay in Houston. Wojnarowski revealed that the Rockets recently tried offering him a two-year, $103 million extension on top of the remaining three years, $133 million on his current deal, but the All-Star shooting guard rejected their proposal and informed management that he’s “singularly focused” on being traded to the Nets this offseason.
Brooklyn is currently in a strong position to engage in a blockbuster deal with the Rockets. Aside from having contracts for salary-matching purposes, they also have young and promising talents like Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen and future first-round picks. However, as Wojnarowski noted, as of now, there has no “meaningful dialogue” between Houston and Brooklyn regarding a potential trade. The Rockets reportedly don’t think that the Nets could deliver the package they want for “The Beard.”