As a potential James Harden trade continues to develop, the former MVP reportedly has expanded his list of preferred landing spots by two.
Harden has added the Boston Celtics and Portland Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. They join a group that includes the 76ers, Nets and Bucks as teams that are rumored to be on Harden's list. That group also included the Heat, but Miami has reportedly ended its pursuit of a Harden trade. Milwaukee is also reportedly no longer interested.
Harden has two years remaining on his contract, plus a $47.3 million player option for the 2022-23 season.
Houston's season opener was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the team. Three players tested positive, with four others quarantined due to contact tracing. Harden was unavailable due to violation of health and safety protocols, and was later fined $50,000.
The league is reportedly reviewing video of Harden at a club, which would be a violation of the NBA's COVID-19 policy that prohibits players from attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.
With his uncertain status dragging into the season, Harden has been reportedly described as having an "uncharacteristic" level of frustration, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Harden reportedly has gotten into verbal altercations with teammates, though it's unclear what the disputes were about.
With so much uncertainty about the Rockets' ability to find a trade partner willing to give up adequate value for a superstar player, Amick reports that there is a "growing belief" within the organization that Harden could end up staying in Houston for the rest of the season or beyond. The Rockets are also not bound to limit their discussions only to the teams on Harden's list, creating an added layer of intrigue to what's already the NBA's juiciest off-the-court storyline.