James Harden will lead the Rockets' recruiting efforts to land his former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant when the reigning MVP becomes a free agent in the summer of 2016, according to a report Tuesday from Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
Durant has two years and approximately $42 million remaining on his deal with Oklahoma City.
The Rockets will be without Chandler Parsons this season, who they let go to the Mavericks in their attempt to land Heat forward Chris Bosh. Miami's forward ultimately chose to stay in Miami but Houston will have the cap flexibility to make lucrative offers to free agents Rajon Rondo and Goran Dragic next summer.
It's the following summer -- in 2016 -- when they plan to use Harden to try and bring Durant to Houston.
Durant and Harden played together for the Thunder from 2009-12. Oklahoma City, unable to position themselves to keep Durant, Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbook, decided to trade Harden in 2012 to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. Harden, now a two-time All-Star, then signed a five-year, $80 million extension with the Rockets later that year.
Durant, who grew up in Washington D.C., has, as one would expect, remained mum on where he may like to play in two seasons.
- Marc Weinreich