James Harden pushed all of his chips to the center of the table after the Houston Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers by 17 points on Tuesday night, making it clear that he does not believe the situation in Houston in salvageable. One day later and a report indicates that the Rockets have identified the two offers they view as best, with a decision potentially coming sooner rather than later.
According to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, Houston has a pair of offers on the table. One, from the Philadelphia 76ers, is about what you’d expect: Ben Simmons would be the centerpiece, while the pair report that the two sides “have discussed in potential packages is 2019 first-round pick Matisse Thybulle, with Houston having interest in the defensive-minded forward.”
The other comes from the Brooklyn Nets, and while any players that would be included are up in the air, the report indicates that Brooklyn would include what can only be described as a shocking amount of Draft capital in a deal.
The Nets have prepared a package to Houston for Harden featuring all of their four future first-round picks and three future pick swaps, multiple sources said. This would place significant pressure on the team to win immediately and the potential partnership between two former star teammates in Harden and Kevin Durant. Nets general manager Sean Marks and his front office have built an impactful culture around their players, and have been able to keep strong future flexibility in the process. For the Nets, there could be hesitation to mortgage future assets with this type of ferocity. Brooklyn does not owe any extra firsts or have any owed to it, so it has four firsts and three swaps available.
The players who would get moved almost seem secondary to the fact that seven first-round picks would, to one extent or another, be put on the table in this deal. This is not to besmirch the players who would get moved — Brooklyn has a number of ultra-talented youngsters and guys who can make this work financially — but this would be a case of a team giving up essentially all of its future in order to win right now.
Harden trade rumblings have been going around all season long, but having said that, things seem to be accelerating following Tuesday night. Now, the question is whether things progress to the point where Harden is no longer on the roster before the Rockets play the Spurs on Thursday evening.