Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel addressed the topic, adding that the Heat’s stance doesn’t necessarily mean they have ruled out playing a role if a multi-team trade transpires for the 34-year-old.
“I’ll connect dots that should give you all the perspective needed,” Winderman wrote after being asked about Harden. “The Heat’s City Edition jerseys this season will feature the word ‘Culture’ across the chest. Can you think of a single thing more incongruous than James Harden in a Heat jersey that reads ‘Culture’? That would be the NBA definition of juxtaposition. (Besides, the Heat have made it known privately that such is not a direction the team is considering. Now, could it make sense as a one-year rental? Perhaps. But that would add a whole new element to culture.) Now, could the Heat enter the equation as part of a multi-team deal involving Harden? That’s another story.”
The Heat have spent almost all of the time leading up to the 2023-24 NBA season trying to acquire a third star to add to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo as they attempt to make another run at a title.
They waited almost three months before losing out on Damian Lillard, who was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks by the Portland Trail Blazers in late September, then missed out on nabbing Jrue Holiday, who wound up with the Boston Celtics.
However, Miami does not seem desperate enough to go after Harden and the significant baggage the former NBA MVP would bring. This offseason, he opted into his contract with the expectation he would be traded and then called 76ers president Daryl Morey a liar as a trade did not happen.
The three-time scoring champion has vowed to never play for a Morey-led team again and reportedly is not with Philly as it prepares for the opening of the season next week.
Though they reached the NBA Finals last season, the Heat now are widely considered to be behind the Bucks and Celtics, at least, when it comes to contenders in the Eastern Conference. In theory, Harden could help them make up some ground in the talent race, but the Los Angeles Clippers appear to be his preferred destination.
Miami could reconsider its stance and take on Harden for one season as it attempts to return to the Finals or pick up some talent if it helps facilitate his trade elsewhere. But the Heat seem much more likely to rely on the roster they have, at least for now, with their season set to begin on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at home against the Detroit Pistons.