As momentum builds toward a trade of James Harden to Brooklyn (or Philadelphia, or somewhere) — and Russell Westbrook to wherever they can find a taker — it can feel to Houston like it is losing its leverage.
Right on queue, enter the Rockets saying they don’t need to trade anyone. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the reporting.
The Houston Rockets feel no pressure to trade James Harden or Russell Westbrook, regardless of the superstars’ strong desire for fresh starts with different franchises, and are “willing to get uncomfortable” as training camp opens and the season begins, sources told ESPN.
The Rockets’ front office, led by recently promoted general manager Rafael Stone, remains adamant that neither player will be traded unless a team meets the asking price.
This is no different than you threatening to walk out of the car dealership and drive home in the car you came in if they don’t meet your price — it’s about leverage in the negotiations. Houston needs to have the threat of keeping the stars and bringing them to training camp to get the best trade package.
It’s also reality — Houston also may need to bring one or both of them to training camp because a deal hasn’t been reached.
It apparently was easier to find a new home for Robert Covington, or will be to find one for P.J. Tucker, than it will be for the superstars and their massive contracts.
Don’t be surprised if Harden and Westbrook trade talks continue past Dec. 1, when players can start individual workouts at team facilities, leading into the full-blown start of training camp. If Harden wants to play in Brooklyn next season, the Nets will have to pay a steep price.