James Harden to Miami: Conflicting Reports Cast Doubt on Heat Trade

James Harden trade

Getty James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets reacts after scoring against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on January 24, 2018.

A flurry of conflicting reports concerning James Harden‘s possible trade to the Miami Heat was revealed on December 21. Hours after it was reported that Miami was “pushing hard” to acquire the former MVP from the Houston Rockets, multiple outlets reported that the Heat was no longer pursuing the trade.

Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman tweeted, “Per source, 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.”

Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang also tweeted out a very similar report on Monday, as did AP’s NBA writer Tim Reynolds.

However, Winderman followed up his statement by adding, “No sooner did Heat announce they had moved on from Jimmy Butler talks in 2018 then Butler shortly thereafter was dealt from Timberwolves to 76ers. Heat approach has been to push such speculation aside once season is about to begin. Heat open Wednesday.”

At the same time, 5 Reasons Sports Network’s NBA Insider has doubled down on their source’s report that the Heat is still going strong to close a deal to obtain Harden. In fact, not only do their sources believe the Heat is continuing to work out a deal, but that Harden is aware of their efforts.

Clutch tweeted, “I can also confirm that… The Heat are pushing hard for a deal. Not saying they’re the frontrunners, but Harden is aware they’re trying.”

Are the Conflicting Harden to Heat Rumors a ‘Leverage Play’?

For those wondering if the Boston Celtics of the Toronto Raptors have a genuine interest in making a play for Harden, “I have not heard anything about Celtics & Raptors,” Clutch tweeted on Monday. “Came as a shock to me yesterday to hear those two teams. Could be a leverage play.”

But what about the Heat? Is such mixed-signal reporting also a leverage play? “The Heat, Nets, & 76ers are still in active conversations with the Rockets for James Harden, per sources,” Clutch tweeted. “The Rockets are holding firm on their asking price, & continue to keep Harden in the loop in regards to potential moves.”

At the moment, it’s truly hard to say what the Heat’s true motive is behind these rumors. With the team’s season opener on December 23, the franchise may be looking to mute the noise on Harden to focus on building up the confidence of their own players, especially the Heat members whose names have been tossed around as being up for trade.

While Harden Might Currently Be Stuck in Houston, He’s Not Happy About It

Just yesterday, it was reported there had been “significant movement” to get James Harden traded to the Brooklyn Nets, or the Miami Heat by the start of the season on Tuesday,” tweeted Sports Illustrated writer Farbod Esnaashari, a statement which echoed what 5 Reasons Sports Network reported the night before.

If Harden, 31, is traded on Tuesday, he will be able to start the 2020-2021 NBA season with his new team. Adding fuel to the fire that Harden is leaning toward joining the Heat, a photograph originally posted on Twitter by 5 Reasons Sports Network’s Brady Hawk revealed that the team’s store is selling the eight-time All-Star’s signature sneaker.

What’s the significance of Harden’s sneakers being sold in the Heat’s store? It could be an indication that the team is preemptively preparing to sell his merchandise, a hint leading many to believe that Harden’s trade to the Heat is imminent. Or it could mean absolutely nothing.

As of December 21, it appears no one really knows where “The Beard” is going to end up, but it seems highly likely he starts the season with the Rockets.

READ NEXT: Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler Hints at Which New Player Can Make Rotation

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