Joe Skipper/Associated Press
According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Heat “no longer are engaging Rockets when it comes to Harden. Was told conversation never was more than cursory, but that, of course, always is a matter of perspective. Heat made clear on eve of 2018-19 season they were out of Jimmy Butler talks for that season.”
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald provided more context on Miami’s reported stance on Harden trade talks:
Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz
One high ranking Heat official had strong interest in a Harden deal, per source in frequent contact with Heat front office. If Rockets change their mind and accept less than what they’re seeking now, Heat very likely would re-engage. But Rockets standing firm. https://t.co/8VMT7giqow
While it’s hard to imagine the Heat would part with Bam Adebayo in a Harden trade, they could still build an incredibly enticing deal centered on Tyler Herro. Other trade chips include Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, a bevy of future first-round picks and players like Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk (to make the money work).
More than likely, the Heat and Rockets would need to get a third team involved or wait until later in the season, when other Heat players whose contracts were renewed this offseason would be eligible to be traded.
There are questions about whether Harden would be the best fit, both on the court and in the locker room. Would Jimmy Butler be willing to defer some of his on-ball, facilitating role for a player like Harden, who grew accustomed to playing in an iso system in Houston?
ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported last week that one of Chris Paul‘s biggest issues while playing with Harden was that The Beard “basically opted not to participate in the Rockets’ offense when the ball wasn’t in his hands, sometimes barely stepping over half court while spectating when Paul had the ball.”
And would Harden blend into Miami’s no-nonsense, hard-working culture? MacMahon reported that Harden had a whole lot of power in Houston:
“Unless they were on the front end of a back-to-back set, it was essentially a sure thing that the Rockets stayed overnight—or even an extra day—after games in Los Angeles, Phoenix and other road cities that rank among Harden’s favorite stops.
“If the Rockets had two or three days between games, it was a good bet Harden would call for an off day and charter a private jet to party in Las Vegas or another city. He always gets an excused absence from the first practice after the All-Star break for the same reason.”
Would he be granted the same privileges within Pat Riley’s Heat?
Superstars like Harden don’t grow on trees. But the Heat also have a pretty good thing going with Butler, Adebayo, Herro and a Heat team that reached the NBA Finals last season. It isn’t hard to see why blowing up the young core for a player who might be a bad culture fit would give Miami pause.