The 2018 NBA MVP always had the Brooklyn Nets as his top trade destination but Harden had “no problem going to Miami,” a league source told Bleacher Report. Interesting to say the least. In addition, the report stated that All-Star forward Jimmy Butler had OK’d the trade before Heat president Pat Riley pulled out of the Harden sweepstakes on Dec. 21.
“There’s a lot of stuff always in the media. I think that he’s a hella fine player,” Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Dec. 10. “I like the group that we have. To tell you the truth, I just want the guy to be happy. That’s what life is about. That’s what the game is about.”
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Harden ultimately got his wish and landed in Brooklyn where he has the Nets vying for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The 11-time All-Star guard is averaging 25.3 points, 11.3 assists, 8.7 rebounds per game this season.
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Heat Made Generous Offer for Harden
There was at least one trade offer on the table for Harden from the Heat, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. The franchise was open to giving up two of their younger players (see: Precious Achiuwa, Kendrick Nunn), plus a 2025 first-round pick along with Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk.
That wasn’t good enough. Not by a long shot. According to Adam Borai of Five Reasons Sports Network, the Houston Rockets asked for the farm and Miami wouldn’t budge. And eventually, the Nets acquired Harden in a blockbuster to end all blockbusters.
“Credit to Houston. They didn’t necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn,” Harden told ESPN. “They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some standup guys over there. It ended up the right way, I just didn’t like how that month or two played out.”
Tyler Herro, Sticking Point in Deal
One of the most talked-about “sticking points” in that potential Harden to Miami deal was the inclusion of Tyler Herro. The Heat didn’t want to part ways with their second-year guard who Riley sees as a building block for the future. The decision not to move Herro has been met with scorn by fans in Miami.
The 21-year-old was the breakout star in last year’s bubble but has failed to duplicate that success this year. Then again, Herro has been saddled by injuries and a move to the bench. He is still averaging 16.4 points, 3.7 assists, 5.9 rebounds — all up from last year — while shooting 35.2% from beyond the arc. He has admitted he needs to play better as he continues to hone his craft.
“I’m never really pleased with how I play, to be honest,” Herro told reporters on Tuesday night. “I think I’m in a good situation but I think I can always be better in every aspect of the game on both ends of the floor.”