James Harden favored to begin season with Rockets

The Houston Rockets aren’t rushing to unload James Harden following his request to be traded, and he’s expected to at least begin the season with the team he has spent the past eight years with.

The Rockets are being offered as -152 favorites as Harden’s team when the season kicks off next week, with 37 percent of the total bets and 85 percent of the total money wagered backing that likelihood.

James Harden wants out. Who wants James Harden?

The Brooklyn Nets have yet to express known interest in Harden, but they are the second favorites in the prop market at +125, backed by six percent of the handle and 17 percent of the total bets. The Philadelphia 76ers (+350) are also bringing in 17 percent of the bets.

Nets star Kevin Durant said earlier this week that he isn’t focused on trying to being Harden to Brooklyn to create a dynamic threesome along with Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, the 76ers reportedly are not interested in parting with young stars Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons to bring Harden to Philadelphia.

Kevin Durant, James Harden
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Heat or Bucks in the mix?

The next shortest odds belong to the Miami Heat (+1400) and Milwaukee Bucks (+2000), both of whom Harden reportedly added to his list of contenders he’d be interested in joining.

The Bucks made multiple moves in the offseason and parted with significant draft capital to land point guard Jrue Holiday. The team faces a Dec. 21 deadline to sign Giannis Antetokounmpo to a five-year supermax deal or risk the 26-year-old entering free agency next summer.

Antetokounmpo said recently he’d welcome the arrival of another star player, and Harden would feasibly qualify as a former MVP and three-time scoring champion.

The Heat surprised last season as Eastern Conference champions, and with Pat Riley at the controls, making a run at star players is always a consideration.

James Harden
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Miami could offer a blend of young players and draft picks to entice the Rockets, but the Heat are also thought to be holding their cash and assets for a chance to land Antetokounmpo. Harden unquestionably could fill a role as a volume scorer with either team. His style of play isn’t a precise fit for Miami, which has a swing offense predicated on ball movement and thrives on defense.

With Miami and Milwaukee backed by three percent of the total bets and one percent of the handle at DraftKings, they’re not as popular among bettors for potential Harden destinations as are the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, who have been backed by five and four percent of the bets, respectively, at +10000 odds.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)