Rockets have ‘growing belief’ that Harden may stay for full season, if not longer

Despite his consistent desire for another deal, the Houston Rockets are increasingly believing that all-star guard James Harden could stay in the franchise for at least the 2020-21 season - if not longer. The news was reported by Sam Amick and Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
The Rockets are looking for a young franchise cornerstone and significant future compensation decision as part of a deal involving the multi-year MVP finalist. If they're not getting that return, Houston is content to keep Harden to himself while they pair him with newcomers like John Wall and Christian Wood. Over time, the Rockets want to convince Harden again that he could fight for a title in Houston.
Here's what Amick and Iko wrote in their Christmas Eve story:
Internally, there is also a growing belief that Harden could stay in Houston all season - if not longer. Undeniable as it may seem.
Elsewhere in the story, Amick and Iko report that Harden recently added Boston and Portland to its list of preferred trade destinations, joining Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Miami and Milwaukee.
However, given Harden's length of contract and its importance to the Rockets, the team doesn't feel bound by its list. From the report:
Closing a deal is only in the best interests of the organization and is not bound by its list of preferred destinations. The team already knows what Harden wants - a trade elsewhere to fight for a championship.
Harden's roster, however, could have an impact on what offers the Rockets receive from other teams, as applicants may not be ready to meet the Houston high price without the Beard's assurance that they are interested in a long-term Partnership there. Therefore, Harden's list grew from one team (Nets) to two (76s) and two to four (Heat, Bucks) and now to four to six (Celtics, Trail Blazers). Over time, this willingness to be flexible could help the missiles achieve their expected return on investment for Harden.
By then, however, the missiles appear to be ready to deploy them. With Harden on the grid, Houston's first game of the 2020-21 regular season will take place on Saturday night in Portland.
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