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Rumor: Rockets’ true feelings about a James Harden trade

rockets, James Harden, Tilman Fertitta

After yet another disappointing end to their season and the departures of Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, it’s only natural to wonder whether the Houston Rockets have any intention of blowing things up and trading James Harden. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has said publicly there’s no interest in doing so, but sometimes what’s said publicly doesn’t align with the plans behind the scenes.

ESPN’s Tim MacMahon shared his insight on the matter, and according to the NBA insider, Fertitta’s public statements match what the team is thinking in private:

“What I can say is right now the Rockets are 100 percent committed to trying to cash in on James Harden’s prime,” said MacMahon on The Woj Pod (h/t RealGM). “They consider him the best player in the league, which you know… He’s without question a perennial MVP candidate. That’s just a simple fact. They’re going to try to win a championship as long as he’s at that level and as long as he’s on board.”

MacMahon then provided a huge caveat. In his mind, it is very much possible that Harden’s tenure in Houston comes to an end in the near future. However, this would be Harden spearheading the move and not the Rockets:

“I think at this point it’s probably a year to year deal. If I’m speculating, I’m going to say that decision is more than likely made by James Harden instead of made by the Rockets. In other words, it could get to a point… And I don’t believe this is imminent. Again, I think it’s a year-to-year situation where at some point James Harden, who has tried repeatedly to pair with a superstar to give him a chance to a championship: first Dwight [Howard], then Chris Paul and now with Russ. If James Harden wants to pair with another superstar, he’s probably going to have to be the one to pack his bags. Is that next offseason? Is that the offseason after that? We’ll see. Obviously a lot of that depends on what happens with the Rockets over these next one or two years.”

In reality, there’s really nothing here that we haven’t heard before. Simply put, Harden could force his way out of Houston if he comes to the realization that he’s not going to win a championship with the franchise. It is worth noting that this comes from a very reliable source, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this is how things play out.