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Rockets star James Harden reportedly expands his list of preferred trade destinations

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Former NBA MVP James Harden’s list of preferred trade destinations has reportedly expanded.

In addition to the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, the eight-time All-Star would also be open to joining the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Harden is under contract with the Houston Rockets for at least two more years, including a $41 million salary this season.

Rockets trade activity

Following the departures of general manager Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni, Harden and fellow former MVP Russell Westbrook requested trades from the Rockets during the offseason. Westbrook’s request was granted in a deal that returned John Wall and a heavily protected future first-round draft pick.

As Houston’s training camp opened, Harden was nowhere to be found but Instagram. He posted pictures from rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta. Multiple videos thereafter caught him partying in Las Vegas on the same day the NBA announced a ban on players attending bars, clubs and live entertainment venues or indoor gatherings of 15 more or people. That violation of league rules entered Harden into an extended testing protocol when he arrived late to camp on Tuesday. He has yet to take the court with the Rockets.

Houston Rockets star James Harden has been sitting out training camp. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets star James Harden has been sitting out training camp. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

New coach Stephen Silas has been left to field questions about Harden’s absence from camp, despite little more than a reported “hello” in communication between the two. Following trades of Westbrook and starter Robert Covington that weakened his roster, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta insisted on CNBC that his team “has done nothing but gotten better in the offseason, adding his hope for Harden to win a title in Houston.

Is a Harden trade realistic?

The Rockets are not required to grant Harden’s request, nor do they have to deal him to one of his preferred destinations. Although, his unhappiness could have a profound negative impact on Houston’s locker room or that of other potential suitors. This seriously limits the market for the three-time scoring champion, who without public knowledge of his trade request and list of preferred destinations should bring a hefty return.

Thus far, trade discussions between the Rockets and Nets have reportedly stalled, and Morey — who left Houston to become Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations — reportedly prefers to keep young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, either of whom would have to be on the table to complete a deal for Harden. Neither the Bucks nor the Heat have a young star on that level to build a legitimate trade around.

Then, there is the question of whether teams should want Harden for what it might cost them. The Rockets have previously bent to his every demand, cycling stars Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Westbrook around him over the past eight years. Harden’s style of play clashed with all of them. Houston built a roster and an offense designed to maximize Harden’s remarkable offensive prowess, and the Rockets have consistently underperformed playoff expectations, save for a 2018 run to Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

In return, Houston has gotten a trade request, a holdout from camp and this expanded list of demands.

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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